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Winter storm pulls its punches in Northeast

Fat flakes of snow fell over a crunchy glaze of ice across the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast on Wednesday morning, but the worst of the storms tapered off before rush hour.
Workers shovel snow Wednesday in New York.
Workers shovel snow Wednesday in New York. Diane Bondareff / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Snowfall across the Northeast tapered off before the morning commute Wednesday as crews plowed through a crunchy glaze of ice from a storm that closed schools for more than a million youngsters and tied up air travel.

Motorists who expected to confront deep snow in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts found roads slippery but mostly passable.

As much as 10 inches of snow fell in northeastern New Jersey, but only about another inch or so was expected during the day, the National Weather Service said.

“We’re in relatively good position,” New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey said Wednesday. “All roads are passable, but we’re starting to see a few more accidents now, so we’re asking people to take it slow.”

Storm is latest in series
The snow was the latest headache from a series of storms that had spread snow and ice over parts of the eastern half of the nation since the weekend. Ice in Georgia and the Carolinas knocked out electric service to hundreds of thousands of customers Tuesday, and slippery roads closed schools, businesses and some government offices from the Plains to the coast.

At least 52 deaths have been blamed on snow, ice and cold from Kansas to the East Coast this week.

Classes were canceled Wednesday in many school districts in New England and the Middle Atlantic region, including in New York City, the nation’s largest system, with 1.1 million students. For thousands of Maryland children, it was the third straight day off as crews cleaned roads.

However, the storm did not live up to expectations. Of the 13 inches forecast overnight at Albany, N.Y., only 3.4 inches fell, the National Weather Service said. Rhode Island got only half the 10 inches of snow that had been predicted. And in Massachusetts, continued cold and dry conditions meant snowflakes had “a hard time getting to the ground,” said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the weather service.

Hundreds of flights had been canceled since Tuesday at Newark, N.J., Liberty International Airport, where 9 inches of snow fell. More than 100 flights were canceled and dozens of others were delayed at La Guardia Airport in New York, and delays and cancellations were also expected at Kennedy International in New York, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

New York City got 8 inches in Central Park. The city has already spent $21 million on snow removal this season, $1 million more than it budgeted, and it has used 250,000 tons of salt, officials said.

Australian ‘astonished’
“This is pretty unusual for me,” Bill Gillies, 47, a lawyer visiting New York City from Melbourne, Australia, said Tuesday night. “But I’m astonished at how people are coping. I’ve never seen this much snow outside a ski resort.”

Nearly 100,000 customers still had no power Wednesday in South Carolina. “The progress has been slow because we are repairing the same lines three or four times,” said Christy Farrell, a spokeswoman for South Carolina Electric & Gas. “We get one section clear, and a tree falls not far from there on another section.”

The weather was blamed for seven deaths in North Carolina; six in South Carolina; five each in Iowa and Missouri; four in Ohio and Maryland; three each in Nebraska, Virginia and Minnesota; two each in Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma; and one each in New York, Kansas, New Jersey and West Virginia. Most of the deaths were in traffic accidents.