Snowstorm Moving in From Plains Threatens Northeast

A weather system that may drop more than a foot of snow in parts of the U.S. Great Plains is expected to move into New England tomorrow, threatening the region’s third winter storm in as many weeks.

Kansas City International Airport was scheduled to remain closed until 4 p.m. today as the system moved toward the Northeast. Winter storm warnings and advisories stretched from Colorado to central Pennsylvania, including Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, the National Weather Service said.

AccuWeather Inc. expects the Boston area to get six inches of snow this weekend, with six to 12 inches possible in coastal areas between Portland, Maine, and Boston, Mike Piggot, senior meteorologist at the State College, Pennsylvania-based weather forecaster said by telephone late yesterday.

“The upper energy from this system is still in the Pacific Northwest, so everything has to come together and coalesce,” Bill Simpson, a weather service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts, said by telephone yesterday. More snow may accumulate depending on the system’s path over the next few days, he said. Higher elevations west of Boston may get more, he said.

Two feet of snow may fall in parts of Kansas, according to Rob Carolan, founder and meteorologist at Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.

“It’s going to be the biggest storm they’ve had since February 2011,” he said yesterday.

Cancelled Flights

As of 7:50 p.m. East Coast time yesterday, 786 flights had been canceled in the U.S. for the day, 251 of them into or out of Kansas City International and 194 at Lambert-St. Louis International, both in Missouri, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company.

More than 300 flights had been scrubbed for today, 194 of them going to or leaving from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, FlightAware said.

Chicago was expected to receive 3 to 5 inches of snow in a storm continuing through today, while St. Louis was forecast to get 4 inches, according to the weather service. Heavy snow is possible from eastern Colorado through northwestern Indiana.

Parts of Kansas and Missouri have a 60 to 80 percent chance of receiving more than 12 inches of snow by today, according to the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

The system is expected to spawn a nor’easter off the East Coast that will bring snow to New England for the third weekend in a row, said Charlie Foley, a weather service meteorologist in Taunton.

There is a 40 to 60 percent chance that parts of northern Massachusetts, southern Vermont and New Hampshire may receive more than 12 inches, the hydrometeorological center said.

NYC Outlook

New York City will get mainly rain starting tonight into the next morning, said Joe Pollina, a weather service meteorologist in Upton, New York. There may be periods when snow falls during the night, he said.

Foley said the storm’s track will determine how much snow an area gets because forecasters expect mostly rain in eastern areas. In addition to the snow, there may be wind gusts as strong as 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour and some coastal flooding, according to the weather service.

Foley said the storm won’t have the power of the blizzard that struck New England starting Feb. 8, killing at least seven people and dropping 24.9 inches of snow on Boston.

Because the system will carry heavy wet snow, the region may see some power outages, Carolan said.

The next 10 to 20 days may bring more storms across the U.S., Carolan said. As spring approaches, temperatures will rise across the South, and warmth mixed with an active storm track may mean severe thunderstorms, he said.

Foley said there’s also a chance for a storm to strike New England early next week.

“It’s an active pattern,” Foley said. “March 20 is the first day of spring, so winter is going to go out with a bang.”