Developing strong winter storm heads up East Coast, blizzard warnings in Northeast
TRENTON, N.J. – A developing nor’easter headed up the East Coast on Saturday with a threat of heavy snow, canceling flights and putting road crews on overtime but cheering up skiers in a region spared harsh weather for most of this season.Blizzard warnings were posted from the New York City area into eastern New England, where up to 15 inches of snow was possible, and a winter storm warning was issued for most of New Jersey, the National Weather Service said. Heavy snow warnings were in effect from eastern Kentucky to New EnglandMore than 100 flights had been canceled by Saturday afternoon at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the New York area’s major airports. Several carriers had already canceled most or all of their departing flights Sunday.Delta Air Lines said it canceled its Sunday arrivals and departures at several airports in the storm’s path, including those in New York City; Philadelphia; Boston; Baltimore; Newark; Providence, R.I.; Washington, D.C.; and Hartford, Conn.Snow began falling Saturday afternoon in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, slowing traffic and putting road crews into action.The New Jersey Department of Transportation had 600 trucks ready to plow snow and spread salt, plus 1,100 contractor trucks, the department said. The department also had its regular maintenance staff of 735 employees, plus more than 400 other state employees, available to operate plows.The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had more than 160 pieces of heavy snow equipment at the New York region’s Newark, Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.In Connecticut, forecasters predicted up to 12 inches of snow, with the highest totals along the shoreline. Snow was expected to start Saturday evening and become heavy after midnight before tapering off Sunday afternoon.Gov. M. Jodi Rell urged residents to stay off the roads if possible.”Take it easy out there and just use common sense,” she said. “We want everyone to get through this weekend storm safe and sound.”In Maryland, transportation officials expected the storm’s timing to make road crews’ jobs relatively easy.The heaviest snowfall was expected between 9 p.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday, the lightest traffic hours of the week, said State Highway Administration worker David Buck.Despite the likelihood that drivers would have to dig their cars out Sunday morning, the storm was great news for northern New Jersey’s Hidden Valley Resort and its 12 ski slopes, said Roni Mattiello, director of snow sports.”It means great, fresh powder to ski in tomorrow,” Mattiello said. “It will help us open terrain on the mountain that hasn’t been opened yet because of the mild winter.”And at Jiminy Peak ski resort in western Massachusetts, Betsy Strickler said she sees the storm as free advertising after an unseasonably warm January dragged down business.”The best PR is when people look up in the sky … see the snow start to fall,” said Strickler, the resort’s head of marketing.Not all sports fans were elated, however. New York’s Aqueduct race track canceled Sunday’s horse racing schedule.—Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Baltimore, Brandie M. Jefferson in Boston and Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton contributed to this report.