The U.S. Northeast is preparing for a winter storm that disrupted travel across the South and now threatens to drop 9 to 18 inches of snow on New York, New Jersey and New England.
New York City declared a weather emergency, urging people to stay off the roads during the storm. Some 1,700 plows are ready along with 365 salt trucks to tackle municipal street cleanup, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Crews will use video feeds and GPS systems to pinpoint trouble spots, he said at a press conference today.
“What we sure know is that tomorrow morning’s commute is not going to be easy, and I would assume that tomorrow night’s is not going to be easy,” said Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News.
Snow will start falling in New York City between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. local time, according to Lauren Nash, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York. The city is forecast to receive 9 inches (23 centimeters), with as much as 14 falling to the north and east, she said.
“The heaviest corridor is going to be from northern New Jersey right up that I-95 corridor through Portland, Maine,” said Carl Erickson, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “In New York, in the five boroughs, it will probably be closer to a foot when things are said and done.”
Erickson said a line of heavier snow, between 12 and 18 inches, will probably stretch from central Long Island through eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including Boston.
“Initially, there isn’t going to be much in the way of wind, but as the storm bombs out off the New England coast the winds will pick up and basically create blizzard-like conditions,” Erickson said.
The storm combines two systems, one from the Midwest and another that dropped heavy snow across the South, forced the governors of Georgia and South Carolina to declare emergencies and led to the cancellation today of 2,268 flights. At least 2,501 were grounded yesterday, according to the tracking company FlightAware.
Winter storm warnings and advisories as of 1:30 p.m. stretched from Maine to Georgia and from the Atlantic Coast to Iowa, the weather service said.
The threat of snow prompted Boston to close its public schools tomorrow, according to the city’s website.
Flights to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport were experiencing delays of almost three hours, according to a Federal Aviation Administration website.
US Airways Group Inc. canceled most of its flights into and out of Charlotte, North Carolina, because of ice and diminished supplies of de-icing fluid, said Todd Lehmacher, a spokesman for the carrier. The number of flights wasn’t immediately available.
Heating oil surged to a 27-month high on the forecast of snow for the Northeast. In addition, Hovensa LLC and Sunoco Inc. have units shut at plants supplying the East Coast, including New York Harbor, the delivery point for heating oil and gasoline futures.
The National Basketball Association postponed a game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks because of snow in Georgia. Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, was closed today and will reopen tomorrow.
Philadelphia may receive 3 to 7 inches, with 2 to 4 inches in Baltimore and 1 to 3 inches in Washington, the weather service said.
New Jersey Transit will “cross-honor” all tickets starting at 7 p.m. through tomorrow, according to a statement. This means that people holding a ticket for a train, for example, could use it on a bus or a light rail vehicle, the statement said. In addition, stations will stay open longer so passengers won’t have to wait outside in the snow.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates New York City’s buses and subways, deployed de-icers and snow blowers. During a post-Christmas blizzard, 600 buses stalled and hundreds of commuters were stranded.
New York has 685 trucks ready to keep state highways clear, according to a statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Long Island Power Authority has 300 linemen and 100 additional contractors ready to deal with potential electrical outages, according to the statement.
Tom Feeney, spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which maintains that roadway and the Garden State Parkway, said the agency has 550 trucks and plows ready to respond.
“It looks like with the timing of this thing we’ll be able to clear a lot of the snow when there’s not a lot of cars on the road so that should give us an advantage looking ahead for tomorrow morning,” Feeney said in an interview.
The storm comes two weeks after a blizzard struck New York and the Northeast, dropping at least 20 inches of snow on Central Park and forcing the cancellation of more than 8,000 flights.
The Dec. 26-27 storm left some New York City streets unplowed for days and garbage pickups backlogged. It cost New York at least $20 million of its $38.8 million snow-removal budget, according to the city’s Sanitation Department.
After the latest snow leaves, southern New England will be clear and cold for at least a few days. There is a chance snow will fall just before the National Football League’s New England Patriots host the New York Jets on Sunday in the second round of the American Football Conference playoffs, Erickson said.