NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Snow started falling in the Tri-State Area late Wednesday afternoon and it didn’t take long to cover the ground north and west of New York City.
The combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain produced dangerous travel conditions. Drivers were being urged to be cautious due to blowing snow and ice forming on the roads.
The storm caused power outages around the Tri-State Area; 11,000 JCP&L customers, 3,000 PSE&G customers, 3,100 LIPA customers, and 800 Con Ed customers were without power on Wednesday night.
The storm system is the same one that dumped snow and sleet on the nation’s midsection and unleashed damaging tornadoes around the South.
GALLERY: User-Submitted Winter Storm Photos
A winter storm warning is in effect into Thursday morning for Sussex and Passaic counties.
A high wind warning is also in effect for much of the area, including coastal Connecticut, Westchester County, Long Island, New York City and the Jersey Shore through 6 a.m. Thursday morning. Winds could be as powerful as 60 mph, CBS 2′s Elise Finch reported.
When all is said and done, the storm could dump a total of 4-6 inches on parts of the area. Other areas are expected to get 2-3 inches of rain, and 3-5 inches of snow is expected in the mid-Hudson Valley.
AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Bowers said the storm’s impact on New York City and Long Island was to be mostly rain.
Flood advisories and high wind warnings are also in effect for parts of the Tri-State.
SNOWFALL IN ROCKLAND COUNTY
The more north and west of the city you go, the more snow you’re expected to see.
CBS 2′s Dick Brennan reported the snow was making things difficult for drivers in Rockland County. Reporting from Airmont, Brennan said those driving along Route 59 were taking it slow because of the slick conditions.
“There are accidents all over on 59, all over accidents, accidents, accidents,” Ari Weinberger said.
On Route 59 in Suffern they were going nowhere fast. Many drivers said they were surprised by the post-Christmas storm.
“The roads are terrible, traffic on 59, the Hudson Valley is a mess right now. Don’t go out on the roads, stay home,” said Jay Hoffman of Suffern.
Slick pavement and more than a slight incline made Airmont Road almost impassable. John Mahoney said he decided to give up.
“It’s really slippery, skidding, I had to reverse. I have rear-wheel drive, so I had to go backwards,” Mahoney said.
Authorities said Christmas shoppers doing their post-holiday returns were clogging the roads, and according to the plow guys, making things worse.
“They don’t cut you any slack at all, they get right in your way. Go inside, outside, doesn’t make a bit of difference. They are in a hurry. Flashing lights don’t mean anything to them,” Carroll said.
Another worry for those on the road is approaching exits, which were backed up and in some cases iced over.
WESTCHESTER PREPARED IN ADVANCE
Towns in Westchester County had been treating their roads since Christmas Eve. Even before the winter storm began bearing down, the White Plains Department of Public Works was ready.
“We knew this was coming, so we started on Monday,” Joseph “Bud” Nicoletti, of the Department of Public Works, told CBS 2′s Jessica Schneider.
It is a science to keep the roads safe. Miles of pavement in the county have been coated with a concentrated sort-of sea water. It’s a formula that prevents slick driving conditions even before the sand and salt are put down or the plows come out.
“It’ll melt the snow and then you get a liquid that can continue to melt snow, at least for a certain amount of time,” Nicoletti said.
Nicoletti said he hopes the winter blast isn’t a sign of woes to come.
“It’s a bad omen, we’re superstitious that way,” he said.
AFTER SANDY, STORM JUST A BLIP ON LONG ISLAND RADAR
Along the barrier island of Long Beach waves raged and torrential rain washed the streets. It’s a community that was battered by Superstorm Sandy but strong in the face of Wednesday’s storm because of it.
“I think we are gonna be just fine. I think we went through the worst of it already,” resident Renee Russo told CBS 2′s Amy Dardashtian.
The 8-foot sand dunes that failed to stop Sandy’s flood waters are back up along the Atlantic to prevent more flooding, right next to shards of wood that used to be a boardwalk. Resident Jim Snow was nearby, still working Wednesday to repair his home.
“This was the most loss I’ve ever seen and I think people are just starting to feel it as the rest of the world is forgetting,” Snow said.
Still far from a full recovery, Long Beach removed 250,000 yards of debris the equivalent of 52 football fields, but wreckage still lines the streets. Residents said they were just hoping Wednesday’s storm won’t set them back anymore.
“I hope there’s no water, just snow. No, I don’t want anymore flooding. We just got the floors done two days ago,” one person said.
IMPACT ON TRAVEL
CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis, driving along Route 208 in Wyckoff, N.J., in Mobile 2, reported that conditions on exits ramps and side roads were forcing drivers to take it easy.
WCBS 880′s Jim Smith reports
Drivers heading back to New Jersey from New England said the roads were treacherous as they got closer to home.
“The visibility is really, really bad. You can’t see more than a quarter mile in front of you. It’s really bad out there,” a driver on the Turnpike told WCBS 880′s Jim Smith.
The weather had also caused a number of flights to be delayed or canceled.
Strong winds were also causing delays at the local airports. Earlier Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said flights were arriving about 90 minutes late at LaGuardia Airport.
LINK: Check Traffic & Transit
Kennedy Airport and Newark Liberty were also experiencing arrival delays.
At LaGuardia, there were plenty of frustrated — and stranded — passengers by 4 p.m.
WCBS 880′s Ginny Kosola At LaGuardia Airport
“I’m trying to get to Miami and they told me that all the flights to rebook are not available today or tomorrow and I was the last person to get LaGuardia to Raleigh tomorrow and then I can go Raleigh to Miami,” a traveler told WCBS 880′s Ginny Kosola.
Some travelers experienced only minor delays, but said that’s enough to ruin their plans.
“My flight here was delayed about 15 minutes, which gets me unable to reach my next connection in Chicago. So that extra little 15 minutes seems like nothing, but it’s probably going to make me miss both flights,” Reno, Nev., resident Brandon Garinger told Kosola.
US Airways is waiving the change fee for customers who must alter their flights due to the severe weather.
The airline is canceling the $150 charge for changing flights to and from 25 cities where there are flight delays and cancellations.
1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten Reports
The offer is available to travelers scheduled to fly Wednesday and Thursday. They must keep the same flight origin and destination. Their rescheduled flights must be by New Year’s Day.
EXTRA: To Change Your US Airways Trip, Call 800-428-4322 or Click Here
The affected airports are in Canada, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
NJ TRANSIT announced it would cross-honor tickets on all of its transportation options through the end of the service day on Thursday.
The transit agency urged all commuters to check its website to stay up to date on any service changes for bus and rail lines.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)