• Chill to spread from Midwest to East Coast by week's end
  • Frigid temperatures aren't going to have much staying power

New York will get a smattering of snow through Wednesday before the coldest air of the year envelops the city and the eastern U.S. this weekend.

Three to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) could fall in New York with temperatures hovering in the mid-30s (around 2 Celsius), said Brian Hurley, a senior branch forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. Washington might end up with about an inch of slush, while areas to the north and west of the capital could end up with as much as 5 inches of heavy, wet snow.

“Temperatures are so marginal right now, especially during the day, it’s going to impact how much of that snowfall efficiently accumulates, especially on the paved surfaces,” Hurley said.

Winter-storm watches and advisories stretch from Missouri to Connecticut, including New York, as a low-pressure system makes its way across the East. This is a different storm from the one that brought blizzard conditions to eastern Massachusetts on Monday and more than 6 inches of snow to Boston.

NYC Outlook

“New York is going to be on the northern fringe,” said Steve LaVoie, a meteorologist with Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.

The snow has a better chance of accumulating in New York because it will start later in the day and continue overnight, Hurley said. LaVoie said it should start to taper off Wednesday morning.

While the Ohio Valley and East Coast also get a few inches, more than a foot of snow is forecast to fall along the eastern shores of Lake Erie from lake-effect storms, the National Weather Service said.

After the snow finally tapers off, temperatures across the eastern U.S. will plunge. “We do get into the coldest air of the season,” LaVoie said. “It’s the coldest we have seen thus far.”

New York’s high temperature Sunday will reach only the upper teens, while Boston and Philadelphia will be about 15 and Baltimore and Washington stay in the 20s, he said.

Wind-Chill

Hurley said wind-chill will make those readings feel even colder to anyone who’s outside.

The frigid temperatures already reach well into the Midwest. Chicago is forecast to have a low of 8 on Wednesday; St. Louis, 15; and Indianapolis, 9.

Cold, especially in the Midwest, can boost demand for natural gas used to heat homes and businesses. While the temperatures will fall to their lowest points in the season so far, readings will start to moderate by late next week, said Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

The forecast for Feb. 19-23 calls for temperatures to rise 3 to 5 degrees above normal across the eastern half of the U.S., which could crimp gas demand, he said.

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