Pedestrians hold umbrellas while walking through the snow during Winter Storm Quinn in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Holly Pickett/Bloomberg)  

Storm Threatens to Snarl Morning Commute With Wind-Driven Snow

(Bloomberg) -- The latest storm bearing down on the East Coast is set to batter roads with wind-driven snow and sleet Wednesday, threatening to snarl morning and evening commutes in New York City and elsewhere.

After starting late Tuesday, snow will intensify in New York after midnight, dumping 11 to 15 inches (28 to 38 centimeters) before ending Wednesday night, the National Weather Service said. Washington could get as much as 8 inches, which would be the city’s biggest snowfall in two years. Boston could wind up with as much as 10 inches.

“There should be more snow on the ground by the evening commute, because it will just be ramping up in the morning,’’ said Faye Morrone, a weather service meteorologist. “The later you commute, the progressively worse it will get.’’

The storm is already impacting air travel, with more than 1,700 flights canceled by 4 p.m. in New York around the U.S. for Tuesday and Wednesday, according to FlightAware, an airline tracking service. It’s also threatening to close government offices in Washington.

Federal Reserve

Congress plans to work through the snow, even if federal offices are closed. The Federal Reserve indicated in an emailed statement on Tuesday that an announcement on interest rates scheduled for 2 p.m. will go ahead as planned. A press conference hosted by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will follow at 2:30 p.m.

Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters Tuesday that their high-profile hearing on election security, which is part of the panel’s Russia probe, will be held Wednesday regardless of the weather conditions.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects to send its weekly data dump of oil supply and demand figures as planned at 10:30 a.m., a spokesman said.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy said he may declare a state of emergency.

“Please do not head out into the snow unless you absolutely have to,” Murphy said. There’s a chance for “the combination of gusty winds and wet snow, which could bring down power lines.”

The storm will mark the fourth nor’easter to hit the region this month. The previous systems dropped snow by the foot from Long Island to Boston and left more than 2 million customers without power during their peak.

Dodging Worst

New York City has been lucky during the previous storms, dodging the worst of the heavy snow. Two weeks ago, Manhattan got 3.2 inches while towns just a few miles west in New Jersey were buried under more than 20 inches.

While the impending snow will be heavy, it might have trouble sticking to pavement and accumulating in urban areas, said Dave Samuel, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. Rain and sleet may also keep snow totals down, especially along the coast, said Shunondo Basu, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance meteorologist.

The high moisture along the coast will mean the snow that falls will be heavy, potentially dragging down branches and power lines causing outages, said Rob Carolan, owner of Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.

In addition to the snow and winds, flooding is expected to rake the coast. The new moon was just three days ago, so tides will be a bit higher than average, Carolan said.

“These coastal areas have taken a beating given,” Samuel said. “It is going to be another rough one.”

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