East Coast Warms as Plains Chill, Storms Delay Flights

Temperatures climbed to 80 degrees and beyond from New York to Washington today as snow and cold gripped the central U.S., causing some air travel delays.

The high in Central Park at 2 p.m. was 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) and was expected to reach 84, the National Weather Service said. That would be the warmest since Sept. 14, according to agency records. Washington was 84 at 2 p.m., 1 degree short of the day’s predicted high.

“The first widespread 80s of the season should peak tomorrow for the mid-Atlantic cities as clouds and a backdoor cool front threaten temperatures on Thursday,” Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, said in a note to clients.

New York City’s high yesterday was 73 degrees, the first reading above 70 since October, weather service data showed.

As the large cities on the East Coast heated up, winter storm warnings and advisories reached from Utah to Wisconsin. Temperatures in the past 24 hours ranged from 100 degrees in Zapata, Texas, to zero in Langdon, North Dakota, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

Denver, where yesterday’s high was 71 degrees, may get as much as 5 inches (13 centimeters) of snow today, the weather service said. The temperature at 11 a.m. local time was 14 degrees. As the storm moves east, it may bring as much as 12 inches of snow to Minneapolis by the end of the week.

Heavy Rain

The leading edge of that storm is also bringing heavy rain and thunderstorms from Illinois to Texas, according to the weather service.

Flights to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport were delayed by more than 2.5 hours because of the weather, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. High winds in the New York City area caused delays of about 30 minutes at Newark’s Liberty International and at New York’s LaGuardia airports.

As of 1:50 p.m. New York time, 514 flights around the U.S. had been canceled, with 260 of those at O’Hare and 179 at Denver International, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking service.

There’s a 15 percent chance of damaging winds from western Missouri to northern Texas, down from 30 percent earlier today, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. In addition, there’s a 30 percent chance of hail across central Oklahoma into northern Texas, down from 45 percent earlier.

The chance of rain along the East Coast will build starting tonight and grow during the week. Those showers will push temperatures down in the large eastern cities, Rogers said.

The high temperature readings, which can boost energy demand as people use air conditioning to cool off, are expected to return next week while the upper Great Plains remain cold, Rogers said.

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