With temperatures dipping below the freezing mark overnight and a cold front sweeping in from the north, a nor'easter barreling toward the Hudson Valley will be greeted Thursday with the ingredients for two days of snow and freezing rain.
Commuters probably won't wake up to significant snow accumulation or hazardous roads, and the trip to work should be relatively easy despite the forecast for light Wednesday night snowfall, which isn't expected to stick. But that's expected to change later Thursday afternoon and into the evening as temperatures fall and the storm system settles over the area.
The storm is expected to pick up, depositing up to 6 or more inches of snow Thursday and into Thursday night, forecasts predict. The nasty weather will be compounded by winds up to 25 mph, and gusts reaching 45 mph. That could bring down tree limbs and power lines, especially if they're already weighted by snow accumulation.
In response, utility companies said they were adding crews to cope with expected outages.
"There have been some forecasts bandying about numbers like 6 to 12 inches for the Hudson Valley," said News12 meteorologist Joe Rao. "That is not going to happen. What we do expect, however, is that [Thursday] night, it'll get cold enough so that whatever snow falls will be able to stick and accumulate."
People who live in Westchester County's vulnerable Sound Shore community could have more to worry about, with coastal towns falling within an area marked by the National Weather Service for potential coastal flooding and gale-force winds. Combined with early-morning high tides on Thursday, neighborhoods near the sound are in danger, Rao said.
"That could cause minor to, even in some cases, even moderate coastal flooding," Rao said.
The threat of high winds downing tree limbs and power lines prompted Orange & Rockland Utilities to declare a storm watch, increasing staffing in its customer service and damage assessment units and adding overhead line and tree crews to address outages. The utility cautioned residents to stay at least 50 feet from downed wires and urged them to report power outages to 877-434-4100.
Con Edison, which provides electric service for most of Westchester County, said in a statement that it was closely monitoring the storm and mobilizing "hundreds of utility crews."
Wind and weather conditions were delaying flights bound for LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport by an average of more than 1 1/2 hours, according to the Federal Aviation Administration website. Delays on some flights arriving at Kennedy Airport averaged 55 minutes. Normal traffic was reported at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh and Westchester County Airport in White Plains.
A Yonkers Police Department spokesman urged commuters to budget extra travel time in light of the weather.
After two days of winter bluster, however, Hudson Valley residents will get a respite, with weekend temperatures hovering around 50 degrees. Monday's high is expected to reach 54 degrees.
Although the Hudson Valley is likely to avoid a direct hit, the storm is forecast to dump as much as 10 inches of snow on eastern Long Island and 5-11 inches on Baltimore and Washington.
Wet snow began falling on the nation's capital early Wednesday, and the federal government said its offices in the Washington area would be closed for the day.
Some dubbed the storm as a "snowquester," a play on sequester, the term used to describe the $85 billion that has to be cut from the federal budget in the next six months because President Barack Obama's administration and Republican lawmakers in Congress failed to reach a deal on the national deficit.
Coastal flood warnings were in effect along a broad swath of the East Coast, from Sandy Hook, N.J., to Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
With The Associated Press