Winter storm blankets Northeast

A few inches of snow coated the Northeast on Saturday in a storm so rare this season in the East that some welcomed it.

"We've been very lucky, so we can't complain," said Gloria Fernandez of New York City, as she shoveled the sidewalk outside her workplace. "It's nice, it's fluffy and it's on the weekend," she said of the snow, which hadn't fallen in the city since a rare October storm that that dumped more than 2 feet of snow in parts and knocked out power to nearly 3 million homes and businesses in the region.

By midafternoon, 4.3 inches of snow had fallen in Central Park and 3.4 inches at LaGuardia Airport in New York. Most of eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, and central New Jersey saw about 4 inches of snow, with a few places reporting up to 6 inches. Flurries and freezing rain fell around Washington, D.C.

Up to 10 inches was predicted for southeastern Massachusetts, noteworthy in a season marked by a lack of snow throughout the Northeast. The quick-moving storm was expected to move out to sea overnight.

Road conditions were fair Saturday, officials said. Crews in Pennsylvania and New Jersey began salting roads around midnight and plowing soon after. By midmorning, the snow had turned to sleet in Philadelphia north through central New Jersey and had stopped falling altogether by early afternoon.

"It's a fairly moderate snowstorm, at best," said weather service forecaster Bruce Sullivan.
Few accidents were reported on the roads, helped by the weekend's lack of rush hour traffic, but New Jersey transportation spokesman Joe Dee cautioned drivers to build in more time for trips.

Though temperatures will warm up this afternoon he said, forecasters expect the wet ground to freeze again overnight.

Flights arriving at Philadelphia Airport were delayed up to two hours because of snow and ice accumulation and about 35 flights had been canceled, but most departing flights were leaving on time, airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said.

New York City had 1,500 snow plows at the ready, each equipped with global positioning systems that will allow supervisors to see their approximate location on command maps updated every 30 seconds, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a morning news conference.

The equipment was installed last year following a post-Christmas storm in 2010 that left plows stuck and stranded in drifts and left swaths of the city unplowed for days. Bloomberg said the GPS system has already led to "vastly improved communication" between supervisors and plow operators.

In Connecticut, where the October storm did the most damage and some lost power for more than a week, about 6 inches of snow was forecast. State police had responded to dozens of accidents by midmorning but said none appeared to be serious.

As always, some benefited from the snow. Enough accumulated through the week for snowmobiling and ice fishing in New Hampshire, where cross-country ski trails and snowshoeing were open at Bretton Woods and other places.