Residents of the Northeast should finally get a chance to clean up this weekend following a messy commute Wednesday morning — a parting gift of the third major winter storm to hit the region this month.
By Saturday — just in time for the last-minute Christmas shopping weekend — temperatures were forecast to soar by as much as 40 degrees in some parts of the region, with New York City possibly reaching 70 degrees.
It should be a welcome relief after more snow Tuesday into Wednesday caused slippery conditions, minor accidents and delays. Black ice advisories were issued for New York City and much of the tri-state area.
The icy conditions shut the Long Island Expressway for three exits in Suffolk County, N.Y., at the height of the evening rush hour. The expressway wasn't reopened until 8 p.m., and just an hour later, about 30 vehicles were involved in a pileup caused by similar conditions in Brooklyn. Fire officials told NBC New York that five people sustained minor injuries.
The latest snow totals late Wednesday afternoon reached 5 inches in Woodstock, N.Y.; 8.1 inches in Framingham, Mass.; 6.4 inches in Boston; and 12.5 inches in Eastport, Maine. The weather turned deadly Tuesday when police in Claremont, N.H., found the body of a 49-year-old homeless man in the snow.
But, as temperatures rose above freezing in much of the region, air traffic was back to normal Wednesday, with no major flight cancellations or delays reported — a big change from Tuesday, when 479 flights were canceled into and out of Boston Logan International Airport and the three major New York-area airports.
For residents of the Midwest and the South, however, it's a different story.
New weather models Wednesday afternoon were predicting that another winter storm would form in the Plains, Midwest and Northeast late in the week, according to Kevin Roth of The Weather Channel, who said a blast of cold air from Canada "will give it a wintry threat from Kansas to Michigan."
For residents of the Deep South, the menace is the opposite: Warm air from the west colliding with moist air from the Gulf of Mexico will trigger severe thunderstorms, damaging winds and possible even tornadoes.
Heavy rain, lightning, gusty winds, hail and possible tornadoes were forecast Saturday for east Texas, most of Arkansas and Louisiana and western areas of Tennessee and Kentucky — including the major cities of San Antonio, Houston, Memphis, Tenn., and Jackson, Miss.
By Saturday, the system will have moved north and east, bringing the same menace to southeast Mississippi, most of Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, west Georgia and central Tennessee, Major cities in the storm's path Sunday include Mobile and Birmingham in Alabama, as well as Atlanta.
"The storm will pack more of a punch," said Nick Wiltgen of The Weather Channel. "We'll have heavy downpours (and) ponding on the roads. It's going to be very inconvenient to get around."