A powerful winter storm that has killed at least six people in the Midwest and South and grounded more than 1,500 flights may drop as much as 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of snow and ice on New York City today.
A winter weather advisory was issued as the storm neared the area about 3 p.m. because it may start as snow and freezing rain, said Tim Morrin, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York. The heaviest amounts are expected in the Bronx and northern Queens and may be on the ground as workers are going home for the day, he said.
“We think the winter hazard will be short-lived,” Morrin said by telephone. “We do anticipate a changeover to rain, and after dark it will be mostly rain.”
The storm has been dumping heavy snow across the Great Plains and Midwest and bringing high winds and tornadoes across the South. At least six people have died, according to the Associated Press.
More than 1,500 flights have been canceled around the U.S., according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking service.
Air traffic in Philadelphia was delayed more than three hours, while halts of more than an hour were reported in Newark, New Jersey, at New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia airports and at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website.
A blizzard warning for much as 14 inches of snow and winds as high as 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour stretches from Indiana to Erie, Pennsylvania, according to the weather service.
At least 16 people were injured yesterday from tornadoes and high winds that swept from Texas to Alabama, damaging homes, hospitals and businesses, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
A tornado watch, meaning the destructive storms may form at any time, was posted until 5 p.m. local time throughout eastern North Carolina and South Carolina, the weather service said. The agency also issued high-wind alerts along the coast from northern New Jersey to eastern Massachusetts.
More than 252,000 homes and businesses were without power in an area that stretched from Houston to New York, according to utility websites and comments by company spokesmen compiled by Bloomberg.
Two-thirds of those were in Arkansas, hit by high winds, thunderstorms and ice yesterday. Areas with the most damage may be blacked out for a week, Entergy Arkansas, the state’s largest utility, said today on Twitter.
Southern Co.’s Alabama Power had 4,981 customers without electricity at mid-afternoon, down from a peak of 47,500 yesterday, Freddy Padilla, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview.
From 4 p.m. today to 6 a.m. tomorrow, winds in New York may reach 40 mph with gusts as intense as 60 mph, Morrin said. In addition, New York City, Long Island and coastal Connecticut may experience some flooding from tides pushed 3 feet to 5 feet above normal.
“Because this is a classic nor’easter with winds piling water up, there is a potential for some minor to moderate flooding,” Morrin said.
The worst will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today and 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. tomorrow when the tides are at their highest, he said.
The track of the storm will spare the large East Coast cities from Philadelphia to Boston any significant snowfall, said Gary Best, a meteorologist with Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.
“If it was farther south and east, the big cities would get walloped by snow,” Best said. “The farther west and north of the track you go, that is where there will be double-digit snowfall amounts.”
Syracuse, New York, may receive as much as 13 inches of snow by tomorrow and Erie, Pennsylvania, may get 17 inches, according to the weather service. Snow falling in Cleveland today cut visibility to about half a mile, according to the weather service.
“The worst of the storm is going to be in swath from northern Ohio through western New York and northern New England,” said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “That is the area that is probably getting a foot, maybe more.”
Western Massachusetts and Vermont may get 10 to 14 inches of snow and the ski areas of New Hampshire and Maine may get as much 18 inches, according to the weather service.
“The ski areas are going to love it, this is great news for them,” Kines said.
In Canada, Toronto is forecast to receive about 4 inches of snow and parts of southern Ontario as much as 6 inches, according to Environment Canada.
A winter storm warning has been issued for southern Quebec, where Montreal and the Eastern Townships may get as much as 10 inches, the agency said.