Winter Storm Threatens New Yorkers on First Commute in March

New York’s first March commute may end up being one of its worst of the season as another winter storm threatens to start the work week with snow, sleet and rain throughout the U.S. Northeast.

A system that’s bringing rain to drought-stricken California will make its way across the U.S., possibly laying down snow from Kansas City to Boston this weekend, said Tom Kines, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

“It’s a good thing for California and then it stops being a good thing once it gets out of the Rockies,” Kines said. “We’re pretty confident that there is going to be a storm bringing a significant amount of precipitation. The big question for the big cities is how much will fall as snow.”

Wave after wave of winter storms have canceled tens of thousands of flights, frozen pipes, collapsed roofs and disrupted business across the U.S. Insured losses reached more than $1.5 billion since Jan. 1, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

“It has been a challenging winter and it distracts the management,” said Jon Hall, an executive vice president at FM Global, a commercial-property insurer based in Johnston, Rhode Island. “It has been a constant challenge and distraction to business.”

FM Global’s clients have incurred about $100 million in weather-related losses so far this season, he said.

Worst Case

In the worst case, commuters in New York will be traveling to their offices with snow falling at a rate of an inch an hour, said Gary Best, a meteorologist at Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire. The storm will linger long enough to coat travelers on their way home, too.

“It will definitely affect the morning commute and even more so the afternoon commute,” Best said.

There is an 90 percent chance snow will fall in New York on March 2 and 3, according to the National Weather Service. Boston’s chances are 70 percent and Philadelphia has an 80 percent chance of sleet and snow on March 3.

Low temperatures on March 3 will be 16 Fahrenheit (-8 Celsius) on March 3, compared with 15 degrees today, according to the National Weather Service.

How much snow falls from Philadelphia to Boston will depend on exactly how the storm moves up the East Coast, Best said. If warm air stays close to the cities, that could change the snow to rain and hold down accumulations.

Midwest Snow

Kines said meteorologists should get a clearer picture of which cities get rain and which get snow in the coming days.

“In the major cities in the I-95 corridor, I think Boston has the best chance of staying all snow,” Kines said. “Either way, it is not a fun time during that Sunday night into Monday night.”

In addition to the storm’s impact on the Northeast, snow will probably fall across the Midwest as well, Kines said.

“It could leave 6 to 12 inches in a swath from maybe Kansas City on east,” Kines said. “That is the worst-case scenario.”

After the storm passes, temperatures will plummet again as cold air keeps its grip on the eastern U.S., Best said.

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