Friday, January 3, 2014

 

Snowstorm Barrels Into the Northeast

Frigid Temperatures and Heavy Accumulation Expected to Snarl Northeast.


Snow made for difficult travel in the Midwest on Thursday. Here, an accident near Kalamazoo, Mich. Kalamazoo Gazette/Associated Press

The Northeast braced for a storm that was expected to blanket the region in snow and frigid temperatures Friday, a day after the same system swept through the Midwest, clogging roadways and snarling commutes.

The Northeast braced for a storm that was expected to blanket the region in snow and frigid temperatures Friday, a day after the same system swept through the Midwest, clogging roadways and snarling commutes.

Officials in the Northeast canceled school and closed roads in preparation for potentially blizzard-like conditions. The storm took a toll on the transportation network: Airlines canceled hundreds of flights, Peter Pan Bus Co. stopped services on several regional routes, including between Boston and New York, and Amtrak warned customers to expect delays Friday.

The storm dropped up to 18 inches of snow over parts of Illinois. “There’s been some lulls in there, but more or less, we’ve seen snow since New Year’s Eve,” said Ed Fenelon, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chicago.

The system got a boost from a second storm that was churning on the East Coast. But the main culprit is a so-called lake-effect storm from Lake Michigan, caused when a cold air mass sweeps in from the Arctic, sucking up relatively warm water from the Great Lakes, cooling it, and dumping snow as soon as it makes landfall.

Roughly 2,000 flights were canceled nationwide on Thursday, far more than the typical 100-to-200 cancellations on an average day, according to Mark Duell of airline tracker FlightAware.com. As of Thursday night, 680 cancellations had been announced for Friday, he said.

Despite logjams on roads, Chicago battled through the storm Thursday, deploying all of the city’s 287 snow-removal vehicles. Public transit maintained normal operations and railroads, many of which converge in the city, maintained normal operations, according to a spokesman from BNSF Railways Co.

Once the snow stops in Chicago, persistent cold is expected to push daytime highs below zero in the region beginning early next week, with the National Weather Service predicting record lows. The last time the city saw consecutive days with highs that didn’t climb above zero was during Christmas in 1983.

Lake Erie and Lake Ontario also brewed up their own lake-effect snows Thursday evening which the National Weather Service said would hit places including Cleveland and Buffalo, N.Y., with up to 5 inches of snow.

In New England, meteorologists warned of possible flooding along the coast south of Boston and on Cape Cod, with dangerously low wind chills expected. Boston is expected to hit a high of only 13 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, with wind chills dipping to 19 below Friday night. Areas to the north and west could be colder.

The state government in Massachusetts will be shut down because of the storm on Friday, Gov. Deval Patrick said late Thursday, while also urging businesses to stay closed. The snow is “nice to look at, but these temperatures are very, very dangerous,” he said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered overnight closures Thursday on many of the state’s main arteries, including the New York Thruway and the Long Island Expressway. The storm is expected to dump almost 10 inches of snow in parts of New York, with wind chills below zero, the National Weather Service said. Six to 8 inches were forecast for New York City, with the heaviest snow totals, from 8 to 10 inches, expected on Long Island.

The storm is considered the first big test for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was inaugurated on New Year’s Day. His fire commissioner, Sal Cassano, said the department has been preparing for the hit with gear, salt and fuel, as well as extra personnel. “We’re ready for the storm,” Mr. Cassano said.

–Jon Kamp contributed to this article.

Write to Ben Kesling at benjamin.kesling@wsj.com
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