Residents of New York and the Northeast who’ve been bundling against icy temperatures for a week may find a blanket of snow by Dec. 19.
Forecasters are putting the odds at 50-50. They can’t say yet for certain what a system now making its way across the country will do once it gets to the Atlantic coast, said Brian Ciemnecki, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton, New York.
“The track it takes will determine how much snow they get on Long Island and New York City and the rest of the Northeast,” Ciemnecki said by telephone. “We’re hoping to have a better idea later today.”
Winter storms can cause airline, rail and highway delays as well as power outages and even coastal flooding, depending on the storm track.
From 1990 to 2009, winter storms accounted for 7.4 percent of all catastrophic losses in the U.S., according to the institute. Hurricanes and tropical storms caused the most damage, at 45.2 percent of the total.
In the winter of 2009-2010, record-breaking amounts of snow fell across the U.S., including in New York, Washington and Baltimore. The Washington area got 1 to 2 inches (2.5. to 5 centimeters) of snow from a storm yesterday.
Cold air has gripped the New York region since Dec. 14, when the high in the mid-20s Fahrenheit (about minus-4 Celsius) was about 20 degrees lower than normal. Weekend highs are expected to be in the mid-30s.
If a storm arrives in the Northeast this weekend, it will probably bring snow starting late tomorrow into early next week, according to the Weather Service. However, computer models are giving forecasters contradictory results with each run.
“Some model runs bring it close to Cape Cod and the next run takes it out to sea, so it’s bouncing back and forth,” said Alan Dunham, a Weather Service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts. “I wouldn’t even hazard a guess.”