A winter storm shutting down air traffic in Chicago and threatening the city with blizzard conditions will drop snow on the eastern U.S., including New York, during the Monday morning commute.
Winds are forecast to rise in Chicago, reducing visibility to near zero late Sunday, and 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimeters) of snow may fall before the storm moves farther east where Detroit, Cleveland, New York and Boston are in its path, the National Weather Service said.
“By Monday morning we are right in the middle of this event,” said John Murray, a Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York. “That is when the bulk of the precipitation will have fallen by the end of Monday morning.”
Winter storm warnings, meaning snow will make travel dangerous, stretch from eastern Nebraska to southern Maine. As of 8:45 a.m. in New York, 1,323 flights around the U.S. were canceled Sunday, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline-tracking company.
The majority of those trips were out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport, the company said. At least 540 flights have already been scrubbed for Monday.
New York may get by 4 to 8 inches with a quarter of an inch of ice on top of that by the time the storm ends Monday, Murray said.
Just to the north of New York, places from the Midwest to the Atlantic could get 6 to 12 inches of snow, said Bruce Terry, a meteorologist with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Boston will be affected “significantly,” Terry said.
Murray said the center of the storm will pass just south of Long Island and a slight change in the track could make things worse in New York.
Light snow will start in New York Sunday, then build in intensity overnight, he said. On Monday it will become a mixture of sleet and freezing rain, possibly ending as snow again before the storm finally exits the area late in the day, he said.
New York City suspended alternate-side parking for Monday to ease snow removal, the city’s transportation department said in a statement. Commuter rail authorities in Chicago and Boston warned residents delays are probable as the storm sweeps through.
Some of the heaviest snow will be falling across central Pennsylvania just as the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerging from his burrow looking for his shadow. Feb. 2 is the day the groundhog supposedly comes out of hibernation. If it sees its shadow on emerging, that by tradition means there will be six more weeks of winter.
The storm will arrive on the East Coast a week after a blizzard buried much of southern New England and Boston under at least two feet of snow and dropped 9.8 inches in Central Park, sparing New York its worst effects.
Boston has a 75 percent chance of getting 8 inches or more by Tuesday, the Weather Service said. The current forecast for the city is for 10 to 14 inches by the time the storm leaves.
An extra foot of snow will make cleanup from the last storm even more difficult, Terry said.