Sunday, December 26, 2010

Airport Traffic Control TowerWinter Snowstorm Sweeps Along U.S. East Coast, Grounding Holiday Travelers

By Dan Hart and Adam L. Cataldo - Dec 26, 2010 5:03 PM

A winter snowstorm, accompanied by blizzard conditions, swept its way up the U.S. East Coast, draping cities from Philadelphia to Boston in white while grounding holiday travelers and signaling trouble for commuters.

New York City and Boston may get as much as 16 inches (40 centimeters) before the snow stops tomorrow, AccuWeather said. The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for both cities. Wind gusts of as much as 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour) are expected, AccuWeather said.

“This storm can certainly catapult us into the top 10 snowiest Decembers of all time for New York City,” said Andy Mussoline, a meteorologist with in State College, Pennsylvania. Mussoline said the “worst” of the storm will pass by 1 a.m.

As much as seven inches had fallen in New York City as of 6 p.m. local time, AccuWeather said. The service reported 3 inches in Philadelphia, 5 inches in Hartford, Connecticut, and as many as 4 inches in Boston.
Amtrak canceled service between New York and Boston tonight. NJ Transit, which transports about 170,000 commuters to and from New York City daily, will run a modified holiday schedule on all of its routes tomorrow except the Atlantic City line, which will operate on a weekday schedule.

Airlines suspended about 2,700 flights because of the storm.

12-Hour Shifts

New York City will have 365 salt spreaders and 1,700 snowplows on the streets and sanitation department employees will work in 12-hour shifts, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today at a press conference.

Boston and its suburbs may receive as much as 18 inches from the storm before it ends tomorrow, said Alan Dunham, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts. Part of central Massachusetts may receive as much as 22 inches.

“Driving tonight during the worst of it will not be advisable,” he said. “Visibility will be down to whiteout conditions and snow will be falling at rate of two to three inches an hour and highway crews won’t be able to keep up with it.”

National Grid Plc, which provides electricity in New York and Massachusetts, was reporting power outages at seven sites throughout the two states. The largest was in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where 817 customers were without power.

Vikings-Eagles Off

In Philadelphia, which may get as much as 12 inches of snow, the Eagles game against the Minnesota Vikings tonight was rescheduled for 8 p.m. on Dec. 28, the Eagles said on their website.

Flight cancellations were stacking up at the region’s airports.

Delta Air Lines Inc. scrubbed about 850 flights, about a sixth of its daily total. United Continental Holdings Inc.’s Continental Airlines canceled 265 flights, mostly from its hub at Newark Liberty International Airport, while United Airlines scrubbed about 110 departures for airports in the northeastern U.S.

US Airways Group Inc. postponed 761 flights, Southwest Airlines Co. about 450, and AMR Corp.’s American about 262.

Temperatures for New York, Philadelphia and Washington are expected to dip into the 20-degree range tonight.

Next to Nothing for D.C.

This afternoon, the National Weather Service in Sterling, Virginia, canceled its winter weather advisory for Washington, saying light snow and flurries would continue into early evening, though it didn’t expect any accumulation of more than 1 inch. A previous warning had forecast as much as 10 inches.

The storm system began in the South over the Christmas holiday. Four inches of snow fell in Chattanooga, Tennessee, while eight inches was reported in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

In Canada, Environment Canada issued a blizzard warning for northeastern New Brunswick and warned of heavy snow or rain in the rest of the Maritime provinces tomorrow. Twelve inches of snow may fall in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and rain may accompany the snow in Nova Scotia.

Winds may gust to 70 mph in eastern Nova Scotia and 80 mph in western Newfoundland, the agency said.
Mayor Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Hart in Washington at

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