Snow to Pummel New York City, Close Schools, Cancel Flights and Trains

(Bloomberg) -- There’s a big storm moving up the East Coast that’s already caused more than 1,000 flights to be canceled and Amtrak to drop some trains in Pennsylvania. New York City public schools will be closed Monday, the Department of Education said in a tweet.

National Weather Service said New York could get as much as 5 to 8 inches (13 to 20 centimeters), up from 4 to 6 inches earlier, when the storm arrives between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. before ending early Monday. Philadelphia could get about the same and Boston might get as much as 9 inches. Winter storm warnings stretch from West Virginia to Massachusetts.

The forecast was a bit tricky because computer models weren’t clear on where the rain-snow line would end up and that determines accumulations.

“The models are honing in,” said Brian Hurley, senior branch forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “It is a very decent system. The heaviest will be overnight, which isn’t bad because it is Sunday when the commute isn’t that big a deal.”

Central Park has already picked up 5.4 inches since Friday from an earlier storm that ended Saturday, the weather service said.

Delta Air Lines Inc. canceled 140 flights, according to a company statement. As of 4:15 p.m. 1,246 flights were scrubbed through Monday with the majority of those in and out of New York, Boston and Newark, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company. Amtrak canceled Pennsylvania trains on Sunday and Monday running between New York and Pittsburgh, as well as nine Keystone Service trains, the federally-funded railroad said in a statement.

The snow will mainly stop falling by 4 a.m. Monday so New York commuters won’t be heading to work in a swirl of flakes, but the heaviest fall is forecast to the west and north.

Rain-Snow Line

The rain-snow line for the storm is a “very tight gradient” between those cities that receive many inches of snow and those that get nothing at all, said Rich Otto at the Weather Prediction Center. The line between rain and snow will hover roughly along the coastline between Philadelphia and Boston, and there’ll be a sharp cutoff on accumulation just to the south. Totals on Long Island could vary quite a bit as the rain and snow battle it out.

For instance, Philadelphia could get 8 inches of snow while Atlantic City about 60 miles to the southeast is forecast to get nothing, Otto said. There’s a similar puzzle in Delaware -- Wilmington could end up with 7 inches, while Dover 50 miles south could get just an inch.

Get Your Coat

The other factor is the storm’s speed.

By 1 a.m., the different pieces of the storm will be coalescing just off the Delmarva Peninsula. At 7 a.m., it will be near the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, and by noon, it will be nearing Nova Scotia, Hurley said.

The snow is being chased across the central U.S. by a blast of frigid air descending from Canada that may set low temperature records across the Great Plains Sunday and Monday, he said. Some of the cold air will seep toward New York with lows falling to 16 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 9 Celsius) by late Wednesday. Boston could drop to 10 degrees.

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