Northeast prepares for another winter blast

Pedestrians cross a mid-town intersection as snow falls on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011, in Manhattan, New York. Forecasters expect a mix of rain and snow to areas from Tennessee into New England with heavier downfall in the afternoon that could complicate the evening rush hour, particularly in New England. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

January 26, 2011 11:25:25 AM PST
Another storm bore down on the East Coast on Wednesday, bringing groans and the potential for as much of a foot of new snow to areas already buried by a winter that is on track to be the worst in years. The storm brought a mix of rain and snow to areas from Tennessee into New England. The snow was expected to get heavier by afternoon and could complicate the evening rush hour, particularly in New England.

Athena Gionis, 76, was shoveling a slushy inch of snow from the sidewalk in front of her home in Silver Spring, Md., Wednesday morning and was already thinking of the bigger storm on the way.

"I don't want to do it today because it's just going to snow again," she said. But since there's a lot of pedestrian traffic on her street she decided: "I'll take the exercise."

Many parts of the East have gotten more snow about a month into winter than they usually get all season. Hartford, which could get as much as a foot more from the latest storm, has already gotten 55 inches, compared with a 46-inch winter average. New York has gotten more than 36 inches of snow and Boston has had 50.

Schools closed or delayed starts around the region, including in parts of Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., and New Jersey.

Some parents and teachers in Tennessee, were concerned about yet another day off of school Wednesday, and how it would affect students' performances on upcoming standardized tests.

Angela Wilburn, who teaches eighth grade at McMurray Middle School in Nashville, said students had missed eight days so far this year, pushing back her teaching schedule and making it hard to keep kids focused.

Her big concern was a February writing assessment. "The writing assessment counts toward No Child Left Behind," she said. "It affects the whole school."

Kentucky had half a foot of snow by Wednesday morning as the snow moved across the central part of the state and headed east. New Jersey and the Philadelphia area could get 4 to 8 inches, and high winds are expected before the storm moves out early Thursday.

The stormy weather was causing some airport delays and cancellations Wednesday morning. In Philadelphia, about 40 departing flights were canceled and some arriving flights are being delayed, some for up to nearly three hours. There were also delays at Newark Liberty International Airport and one hour delays on arrivals at LaGuardia Airport.

The National Weather Service said significant snowfall was forecast for the New York metropolitan area. Accumulations of up to 10 inches were forecast for the city, Rockland and Westchester counties and Long Island.

Snow began falling heavily on Long Island in the middle of the morning rush hour. Local streets quickly became snow covered, although the major roadways remained passable.

"The roads are really, really bad," said Ed Deutsch, a school bus driver from Islip Terrace. He said a trip that ordinarily takes him 35 minutes took over an hour.

"I'd rather have 4 feet of snow than this coating that's on the roads right now. It's very slippery."

Motorists in New Jersey also faced slick conditions as light snow fell over most of the state. Heavy snow was expected over most of the state Wednesday night.

In Philadelphia, the intensity of the storm caught some by surprise.

In downtown, Andre Floyd, a carpenter for more than a decade with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, arrived to work at his usual time, 7 a.m., but already felt behind on his duties of clearing snow along the waterfront. When snow is expected, he said, his crew comes in at 6 to clear it.

"We got surprised," he said. "It was supposed to rain this morning."

But he's not complaining.

"It's a blessing, I got a job. I could be looking at this weather and thinking 'I don't want to go to work,' but I look at it like it's a job, I have a job."

Meteorologists say the storm could leave some significant snow in Maryland and the District of Columbia after several close calls. On Washington streets, conditions were mostly slushy or wet. But forecasts for later in day range from 1 to 10 inches of snow.

The storm will likely bring heavy snow to much of southern New England late Wednesday and early Thursday morning.

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