NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A storm system moving toward the Tri-State Area was expected to bring snow, wind and rain.
Heavy winds were whipping up in the area on Wednesday night, with rain and snow expected to begin in earnest later. The same system had already made its mark on the mid-Atlantic states, dumping several inches of snow in Virginia.
By 9 p.m., LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International, and Newark-Liberty International airports were experiencing delays of 2 to 2 1/2 hours, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
At least 254 flights were canceled at the three airports, and more than 2,200 were canceled nationwide as a result of the storm.
A total of 4,080 Tri-State Area power customers were in the dark at 9 p.m., power company officials said.
Preparations were well underway Wednesday with the biggest concern along the coast being flooding, especially in areas still struggling since Superstorm Sandy.
A winter weather advisory is in effect until noon Friday for parts of Connecticut, northeastern New Jersey, New York City and western and central Long Island.
A wind advisory is in effect for New York City, Long Island, southern Westchester and parts of southern Connecticut until 6 p.m. Thursday. Forecasters said winds will be about 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.
Various coastal flood advisories, watches and warnings are also in effect Wednesday night and Thursday.
Calling it the “toughest storm” he’s “ever had to forecast,” CBS 2′s Lonnie Quinn said wind, rain and snow will affect our area in two parts. The first part was to occur Wednesday night into Thursday morning and the second from Thursday night into Friday morning.
Quinn predicted that the winds would be the big story into Thursday morning, with snowfall totaling 3 inches in New York City, 4 inches in Belmar and 5 inches in Farmingdale by 5 p.m. Thursday.
However, Thursday evening into early Friday morning, the snowfall will continue, bringing the total to 8 inches in New York City, 11 inches for Farmingdale and 10 inches in Shirley.
The snow on Friday will be heavy, and tree limbs and power cords could come down, Quinn said.
In coastal areas, the chief concerns are multiple high tides, sand dune breaches, road closures, and 15-foot waves offshore, Quinn reported. He emphasized that this storm will not be like Superstorm Sandy, but “this is a big deal.”
In New York City, the Department of Sanitation issued a snow alert, meaning crews are loading hundreds of salt spreaders and getting equipment ready.
“Right now, we’ll have 400 spreaders ready to go out tonight when it starts snowing and as they need to do any salting or treating the roadways,” Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty told reporters, including WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell, on Wednesday afternoon.
Doherty added that the sanitation department has the necessary manpower and supplies to handle the nor’easter. There are 1,400 plows also ready to hit the roads, Doherty said.
“We have plenty of salt on hand. We have about 267,000 tons of salt,” Doherty said.
On top of all that, Doherty said they have enough money to pay for it.
“The snow budget was just under $60 million. We’ve spent about $40 [million] of it,” he said.
He added the biggest concern is ensuring the roads are safe and passable for the Thursday morning commute.
Con Edison is also getting ready. The utility said it is mobilizing hundreds of utility crews to respond to any outages the storm might bring.
On Long Island, the town of Riverhead has new weapons for dealing with the snow — two military vehicles.
“These are military big four-wheel drive Air Force trucks,” Highway Superintendent George Woodson told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall. “The government has a website that they have with excess equipment that municipalities and cities can get equipment relatively cheap. We don’t have a big budget here.”
Woodson said the military vehicles made a big difference in the last snowstorm, where parts of Long Island got up to 30 inches.
“We would have been hurting. The smaller trucks with the weight of the snow couldn’t push the snow,” he said.
He said there are about 30 plow drivers who work overtime and he said they have piles of salt and sand ready to go.
National Grid said extra Long Island Power Authority repair crews and support personnel are on hard to deal with any power outages. It said LIPA has also stocked up on supplies and equipment in order to restore outages quickly.
In Connecticut, forecasters expect New London County were expected to take the state’s hardest punch from the approaching winter storm.
The National Weather Service said 6 to 10 inches of heavy, wet snow could fall in southeastern Connecticut through Friday morning.
Forecasters said Fairfield and New Haven counties could see 3 to 7 inches of snow, strong winds and coastal flooding with tides up to 3.5 feet above normal.
Officials in Bridgeport are carefully tracking the storm and taking precautions.
“We already had some of our trucks hitting the streets, already retreating the streets much the same way that they do on state highways,” said city spokesperson Elaine Ficarra. “We use that same brine solution and that helps keeps the snow from freezing up.”
In New Jersey, more than 13,000 customers in southern and central coastal areas lost power as early as Wednesday afternoon as high winds raked the Jersey shore.
Meanwhile, NJ TRANSIT started cross honoring tickets beginning Wednesday at 2 p.m. and continuing through Thursday.
Raritan Bay was churning in Keyport as of Wednesday evening, WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell reported.
The winds were strong and sustained ahead of the storm’s full impact.
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