March 25 (Bloomberg) -- An early spring snowstorm that tied up air traffic along the U.S. East Coast probably won’t have the impact on New York City that forecasters initially feared.
A winter weather advisory for New York and Long Island was dropped and now forecasters believe the city may get about an inch on grassy surfaces, said Tim Morrin, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York.
“The precipitation field is having a dickens of a time moving north,” Morrin said by telephone. “When it does arrive, the intensity of the precipitation will be very light.”
The storm, which has trigged warnings and advisories from Illinois to New Jersey, is tying up air traffic across the eastern U.S. Three to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of snow may fall across eastern Maryland, including Baltimore, and 2 to 4 inches in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, according to the weather service.
“It’s going to cause travel problems on Interstate 95 and into the airports,” said Rob Carolan, founder of Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire. “The good news is this could be it. The pattern gets a lot quieter after the next five to 10 days, which would be a welcome change.”
As of 11:45 a.m. New York time, 531 flights had been canceled, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company, 121 to or from New York’s La Guardia Airport and 113 from Newark’s Liberty International Airport.
Delays of more than an hour were being reported for flights into Newark, Philadelphia International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration website. Boston’s Logan International Airport was experiencing delays of more than 30 minutes and increasing.
The storm was expected to skirt Boston, according to the weather service. The mountain areas of West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland are expected to receive 6 to 12 inches from the storm. Columbus, Ohio, may get 6 inches.
About 31,000 homes and businesses from New York to Florida were blacked out at noon New York time today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from electric-utility websites. Most of the power failures, about 24,000 of them, were in Virginia and West Virginia.
Since the start of February, an almost weekly series of storms has come across the U.S., dropping snow and tying up air traffic as they moved east from the Great Plains to the coast. Along with the storms, temperatures have stayed lower than normal much of the time.
Temperatures are expected to be at least 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 Celsius) below normal from the Great Plains to Florida through the rest of the week, according to Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC. in Bethesda, Maryland.
March will end “chilly” across much of the Midwest, South and East, Rogers said in a note to clients today.
March is the traditional end of the heating season that starts in November and accounts for the highest natural-gas use each year. Extended cold in the large population centers of the Midwest and East helps boost prices for heating fuels. About 50 percent of U.S. households use gas for warmth.
Rogers said the pattern that has been keeping the eastern U.S. cold will begin to break up in the next few weeks. He predicted seasonal temperatures will take hold across much of the U.S. by April 4 to 8, with the Upper Great Plains and Midwest, including Chicago, staying 3 degrees below normal.
After the storm passes New York, the city will probably have partly sunny skies, with temperatures in the 40s Fahrenheit through at least March 28, said Matthew Tauber, a weather service meteorologist in Upton. The temperatures will be high enough to help melt snow.
The normal high temperature in Central Park for the date is about 52 degrees, according to the weather service.
To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at email@example.com