More More Snow for Northeast U.S. as 14,000 Flights Grounded


gsr-031The U.S. Northeast is bracing for more snow this morning in a winter storm that grounded almost 14,000 flights and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands this week.

New York and Boston could pick up a few more inches, and accumulations in parts of Pennsylvania and central New England may reach close to 20 inches (51 centimeters), said Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “Boston will get it in the wee hours of the morning,” Sosnowski said.

At least 20 deaths were linked to the storm as it swept out of Texas and up the East Coast, the Associated Press said. A winter storm warning was in effect this morning for most of northeast New Jersey, where about 2 inches of new snow may bring accumulations to 12-16 inches, the National Weather Service said in a report at 1:28 a.m.

Washington, D.C., where federal offices were closed yesterday, reported total snowfall of about 8.6 inches as of 10:19 p.m. yesterday. Accumulations were heavier in Maryland, with 20 inches recorded in Allegany County, 26 inches in Baltimore County, and 24 inches in Carroll County.

So far this week, 13,597 flights throughout the U.S. have been canceled, said FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking service. As of 3:36 a.m. New York time, more than 1,000 flights within, into and out of the U.S. were scrubbed today. That follows yesterday’s total of 6,527, including about 85 percent at Washington’s Reagan National Airport.

The storm knocked out power to 742,603 customers in 11 states from Texas to New Jersey as of 2:30 p.m. yesterday, according to an Energy Department report that didn’t count blackouts involving fewer than 1,000 customers.

Power Out

Georgia and South Carolina were the hardest hit. At least 344,365 customers, or 7 percent of Georgia’s users, were without power, while in South Carolina it was 224,455, or 9 percent, the department said.

U.S. government offices in the Washington area are scheduled to open today with a two-hour delay, the Office of Personnel Management announced on its website. Employees will have the option to take unscheduled leave, the agency said.

Even with U.S. agencies’ delayed opening, the Labor Department plans to issue import price data today via Internet as close as possible to 8:30 a.m., while the Federal Reserve’s industrial production report will be released as scheduled at 9:15 a.m.

Philadelphia schools will be closed today. Rail service between Washington and Boston operated on a reduced schedule, Amtrak said in a statement.

Increased Projections

In Central Park, 9.5 inches were on the ground as of 1 p.m. yesterday, and the weather service increased its projections for New York to 10 to 16 inches from 8 to 12. Three to 7 inches may fall overnight, the agency said. Boston’s Logan International Airport had 0.3 inch as of 2:07 p.m.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York City, Long Island and the mid-Hudson Valley. He urged motorists to stay off the roads.

The storm moved into the area with more strength than the computer models had forecast, said Joe Pollina, a weather service meteorologist in Upton, New York.

“The computer models didn’t pick up on a piece of energy that squeezed out all the available moisture,” said Gary Best, a meteorologist with Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Snow fell at a rate of 1 to 3 inches per hour in New York before that band moved north into New England, Best said. New York has had eight days this season with a snowfall of 3 inches or more, the most since 1960-61, said Weather 2000 Inc.

South Struggling

The South is struggling to recover from snow and ice that has been falling there for the past three days. As of 9 a.m., 19 inches were reported in Cherry Grove, West Virginia, 18 in Winchester, Virginia, and 15 in Saluda, North Carolina, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.

A spotter trained by the weather service reported 18 inches in Greenville, Virginia, about 45 miles west of Charlottesville. Another spotter recorded 18 inches in Ballenger Creek, Maryland, about 43 miles north of Washington.

“The worst of it is over but they’re still out there trying to clean up, and they’re going to be dealing with some more snowfall through the evening,” said Steve Goldstein, a weather service meteorologist in Sterling, Virginia.

A half-inch or more of ice fell across a wide area of central Georgia, including in Augusta and Marietta, the Weather Prediction Center said. Three inches coated Forest Acres, South Carolina, where the state asked people not to drive until the storm passed.

After the current storm moves off toward the Canadian Maritimes, a second system is expected to move eastward across the U.S. today, Best said.

It will leave light snow on the central Great Plains through Ohio Valley tomorrow and reach the mid-Atlantic region by nightfall, Sosnowski said. There’s a chance it could strengthen over the Atlantic and bring snow to Boston this weekend.