Schools shut, flights canceled as storm sweeps U.S. Midwest, East Coast

A local resident removes snow from a car during a winter storm in Washington, U.S., February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

(Reuters) – A winter storm swept across much of the U.S. Midwest and East Coast on Wednesday, hampering air travel and prompting officials to close federal offices in Washington and several large public school systems.

The National Weather Service warned the storm could make travel very difficult, with snow, sleet and freezing rain potentially causing downed branches and power outages.

The storm reached from northern Minnesota down through Missouri and east into the Mid-Atlantic region and could bring as much as 6 inches (15 cm) of snow along with sleet and freezing rain, the National Weather Service said in an advisory.

The storm forced the closing of federal agencies in Washington as well as schools in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.

Hundreds of flights were delayed or canceled in and out of major airports in Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago, according to Flightaware.com. Airports told passengers on social media to check their airlines for delays and cancellations.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Widening snowstorm, freezing rain to snarl travel in eastern U.S.

Pedestrians walk down the sidewalk as snow falls in the Times Square neighborhood of New York, U.S., February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A widening snowstorm with an encore of freezing rain iced over the U.S. Midwest on Tuesday and headed east, causing hundreds of flight cancellations and closing schools, and was expected to tangle New York and Boston’s evening rush hour.

As much as 1 foot (30 cm) of snow was predicted for inland parts of New England, as well as up to 4 inches (10 cm) in New York City and up to 5 inches (13 cm) in Boston before turning to freezing rain in the late afternoon, said meteorologist Dan Petersen with the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.

“The big cities along the coast are going to have a pretty quick changeover from snow to sleet and freezing rain and eventually rain,” Petersen said in a phone interview. “The danger of snow changing to freezing rain is people slip and slide quite a bit and that’s the cause of accidents when people lose control of their cars.”

The storm by early morning had iced over Illinois and Michigan and was moving through Wisconsin into northern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York state. The widening storm was expected to reach as far south as northern Delaware and Maryland, Petersen said.

More than 1,600 flights into and out of the United States were canceled on Tuesday, most of them at airports in Chicago, New York and Boston, according to FlightAware.com.

Ahead of the storm, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency, and hundreds of schools were closed for the day.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Light winter weather threatening central United States

Portions of 15 states were under winter weather advisories on Tuesday morning as a winter storm was expected to bring snow, freezing rain and sleet later tonight and into Wednesday.

Precipitation types and totals were expected to vary by location, according to the National Weather Service, but none of the states were expected to see more than moderate amounts.

The service issued a winter storm warning for Kentucky, advising up to 5 inches of snow was possible through Wednesday, and winter storm watches in other portions of that state and southern Illinois. Other parts of those states, as well as the 13 others in the service’s advisory area, were largely forecast to get between 1 and 4 inches of snow, or other winter precipitation.

The National Weather Service issued the winter weather advisories for parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois and Virginia, asking motorists there to exercise caution.

Precipitation was falling in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri as of late Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service’s radar showed, and it was expected to move east into Wednesday.

The National Weather Service also said it was “monitoring the possibility” of a more significant winter storm that could affect major cities in the northeast this weekend. Early forecasts indicate the storm may bring 1 to 2 feet of snow and coastal flooding along the I-95 corridor, the service said, a stretch that includes cities like Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. The service had yet to issue any watches or warnings for that storm, as it may not materialize.

Separately, a storm arrived on the Pacific Coast on Tuesday and triggered several other notices.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings in mountainous parts of California, which could receive 6 to 18 inches of snow by the end of the day. The service also issued flood advisories for other portions of California, saying rain may cause small streams to flood.

Winter weather advisories were issued in parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana as a storm was expected to move east into those states later tonight and into tomorrow, but snow totals weren’t expected to be as significant as they were California. Still, the service called for up to 5 inches of snow in Washington’s valleys and 8 inches in its mountains.