New York City Faces Its Heaviest December Snowfall in a Decade

A foot or more of snow could blanket the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast starting Wednesday, snarling travel and sparking power outages while bringing New York its worst December storm in 10 years.

New York could get 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 centimeters) of snow starting Wednesday afternoon, although a slight shift in the storm’s track may cut that total almost in half, the National Weather Servicesaid. The heaviest snow will land in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, where as much as two feet may pile up.

“There is going to be a large swath from central Pennsylvania to southern New England that could see over a foot,” said Tyler Roys, a meteorologist withAccuWeather Inc. “It’s been a while since we’ve had such an impactful storm.”

The storm threatens to snarl road, rail and air traffic throughout the eastern U.S., just as trucks carryingPfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine from Michigan fan out across the country and carriers are burdened with holiday packages. It’s also likely to touch off power outages casting many people working from home into the dark, said Zack Taylor, a forecaster with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.

Winter storm warnings and watches, as well as weather advisories, stretch from South Carolina to Massachusetts. In addition to New York, Washington could get as much as 4 inches, and Philadelphia and Boston may see 9 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

“The heaviest amounts will be west of the I-95 corridor,” Taylor said.

In Washington, where snow should start Wednesday morning, the suburbs to the north may get three times as much snow as the city itself. The system’s actual path will determine if the forecasts are on target, or if rain and sleet mixes in to reduce snowfall totals.

“There is still some uncertainty from D.C. to Philly, where that transition between rain and snow and wintery mix will be is quite fine.” Taylor said.

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If the forecast bears out, this would be the heaviest December snowfall in New York’s Central Park since 2010, when the city was buried under 20.1 inches, according to weather servicerecords. It will also beat last winter’s total snowfall, which only amounted to 4.8 inches.

Winter storms caused $2.1 billion in insured losses across the U.S. last year and about $3 billion in 2018, according to Munich Re. The snowy and icy weather snarls airline, highway and rail traffic, and can trigger power outages and hinder retail sales. In 2019, 13 people died across the U.S. from winter weather, according to the National Weather Service

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