Saturday, January 22, 2005

Arctic Snowstorm Bears Down on Northeast

Excerpt from CNN

By The Associated Press

A snowstorm moving Friday from Canada into the Great Lakes drew weather warnings from North Dakota to New Jersey and the Long Island Sound, with some areas bracing for a foot of snow or more.

The storm blanketed parts of Minnesota on Friday evening, stalling rush-hour traffic in the Twin Cities and shutting down Interstate 94 and other highways in western Minnesota because of zero visibility. Just a single runway of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was open by 6 p.m., and more than 200 flights were canceled.

New Jersey and areas around New York City expected up to 15 inches of snow over the weekend. Several areas to the west expected less snow, but some, such as southwestern Ohio, already had several inches on the ground from earlier storms.

Even at the Hidden Valley Resort in Vernon, N.J., there was apprehension, despite the prospect of good skiing conditions.

"It's great for morale and gets a lot of people interested in skiing, but a snowfall like that over the weekend hurts our cash registers because people aren't getting in their cars and coming out here," general manager John Shema said.

Bitter cold already closed schools Friday in central New York and hampered road-clearing efforts. Early morning temperatures dipped as low as minus 15 in Ithaca, and Syracuse's low of 11 below zero beat the date's previous record of 8 below, set in 1984.

"It actually hurts — I mean, breathing actually hurts," Syracuse schools spokesman Neil Driscoll told AP Radio. "It's such a drastic change to just step outside with a minus 15 degree actual temperature and a wind chill that ranges somewhere from 20 to 30 below."

Temperatures were in the teens in New York City, but the wind made it feel like it was 4 degrees below zero. A law keeps horses from drawing carriages in Central Park when it gets that cold; many human workers who had no such excuse coped with help from vendor Bashir Babury's coffee.

"Nobody asked for bagels or doughnuts; they're frozen," Babury said from his cart on West 33rd Street.

The coming storm was expected to bring strong wind to areas around the city along with heavy snow, prompting the National Weather Service (news - web sites) to issue a blizzard warning along the Long Island Sound.

More than 8 inches of snow were expected to fall in Minneapolis by Saturday morning, and Milwaukee and other cities along Lake Michigan area could get close to a foot. Chicago was expecting up to 10 inches by Saturday, along with winds of around 25 mph, and as much as 8 inches of snow were expected in northern Ohio.

The snow could fall as fast as 2 inches an hour in Pennsylvania, which could get up to 10 inches. That state and New Jersey each had more than 2,000 trucks available to salt and plow major roadways, authorities said.

"This will be primarily a plowing storm," said Gary Hoffman, Pennsylvania's deputy secretary of highway administration.

The snow was welcome for snowmobile dealers in Twin Cities area, which before Friday had seen less than 5 inches of snow this season. But for some it seemed too little, too late.

"If I do get up on the counter and dance, it'll be a very slow dance," said John Berens, a salesman at Leo's South, a Ski-Doo dealership in suburban Lakeville.

In eastern North Dakota, where 6 inches of snow and wind gusts approaching 50 mph were expected Friday and early Saturday, blowing snow and icy roads made driving difficult.

"Everybody from every direction says the roads are terrible," Jessie Puppe, manager of a West Fargo truck stop, said Friday.


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