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US Northeast braces for blizzard threatening outages, travel snarls

March 13,2017 16:28

NEW YORK Forecasters put the U.S. East Coast from New York City to Boston on blizzard warning starting as early as Monday night, with authorities advising residents to prepare for the possibility of widespread power outages, road closures and flight ...and more »



By Chris Michaud and Daniel Trotta
| NEW YORK

NEW YORK Forecasters put the U.S. East Coast from New York City to Boston on blizzard warning starting as early as Monday night, with authorities advising residents to prepare for the possibility of widespread power outages, road closures and flight disruptions. Weather experts predicted the region could see 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) of wind-blasted snow from Monday to early Wednesday with temperatures 15 to 30 degrees below normal.New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced preparations for the so-called Nor'easter storm, activating the state Emergency Operations Center as of Monday night while also directing state agencies to be on heightened alert. "I strongly urge everyone to limit unnecessary travel on Tuesday, and if you must ‎drive, please plan ahead, be careful, and stay safe," Cuomo said in a statement, adding that commuters should expect road closures, delays and cancellations.The storm raised the potential for power outages with damaging winds across the eastern part of New York's Long Island and southeastern Connecticut, prompting utility companies to put additional staff and auxiliary equipment on standby.

"The amount of snow and high winds associated with this storm may bring down trees and power lines," said John Latka, a spokesman with Public Service Enterprise Group, New Jersey's largest electric and gas utility.Significant disruption to air travel in the region was also anticipated.Blowing snow and strong winds could lead to whiteout conditions with visibility down to a quarter-mile (400 meters), the National Weather Service said. Temperatures were forecast in the upper 20s Fahrenheit (-2 to -4 degrees Celsius).

New York City issued a snow alert for Monday night into Tuesday, expecting snowfall rates of up to 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) per hour Tuesday morning and afternoon, with gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph). The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was installing hundreds of pieces of snow equipment at the three New York area airports. Thousands of tons of salt and sand were prepared for airport roads, parking lots, bridges and tunnels.

As some 50 million people along the Eastern Seaboard came under storm or blizzard warnings and watches, Washington, D.C., which often bogs down with even low levels of snow, was expecting 5 inches (13 cm) and twice that in outlying areas.The storm comes near the end of an unusually mild winter along much of the East Coast with below-normal snowfalls in some areas, including New York City and Washington. It was the warmest February on record in nearly the entire area, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center.Last week in New York, temperatures hovered near 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), according to Accuweather.com, hitting 60 or higher on six days in February.In the western United States, the weather service forecast potentially record-setting heat in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, where temperatures were expected into the 90s (above 32 degrees Celsius) in some places. (Reporting by Chris Michaud and Daniel Trotta; additional reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Randy Fabi and Bill Trott)

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