NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Weather-weary residents are gearing up for yet another storm as the fourth nor’easter in three weeks is zeroing in on the Tri-State area.

The National Weather Service says New York City and its northern suburbs could get 12 to 16 inches of snow. On Long Island, accumulations could reach 11 to 15 inches in Nassau County and 7 to 10 inches in Suffolk County.

CHECK: Latest Forecast | Radar | School Closures, Delays | Traffic & Transit  

A winter storm warning was in effect from midnight until 8 a.m. Thursday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the looming storm at an event commemorating the opening of Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Harlem.

“This storm is going to start slow but pick up very quickly,” De Blasio said. “We have estimates as much as 12 to 15 inches of snow.”

As a result, the mayor ordered city schools to be closed on Wednesday.

Sleet and freezing rain were expected by Tuesday afternoon, the first day of spring. The mixed precipitation should turn to all snow by late Tuesday and continue through most of Wednesday.

The bulk of the snow and sleet was expected to wallop New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and parts of eastern Pennsylvania Wednesday before heading off to Nantucket off Cape Cod early Thursday, the fourth nor’easter to slam the region in three weeks.

Flakes started falling on Avon-by-the-Sea Tuesday afternoon.

The jet stream, the upper level river of air that guides weather, is stuck in a plunging pattern that brings plenty of moisture from the south up the East Coast, said Brian Hurley, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

 

Four nor’easter in three weeks is highly unusual, but it happens when a pattern locks in. And that’s happened, Hurley said.

Widespread power outages are possible, especially Wednesday, with gusts of up to 35 mph at times. Officials are cautioning against unnecessary travel Wednesday afternoon and evening.

In Bronxville, the Department of Public Works prepared snow equipment by putting chains on tires and stacking 400 tons of salt, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.

“This is definitely one for the records,” said General Forman Victor Lema.

Others were ready for possible power outages.

“It’s coming tonight and everybody should buy generators,” said resident Megan McSherry. “It’s the only way we can stay warm & safe with the lights on.”

Village Administrator James Palmer has been in on the calls to Con Edison after previous nor’easters led to widespread power loss in Westchester County.

“Con Ed needs to improve communication,” he said. “During these most recent events, the website was down. It was also very difficult for residents to get their liaison.”

Back at the DPW yard, crews are gearing up for a 5 a.m. plow roll out.

“I’m so tired of this,” Lema said. “I’m ready for that warm weather.”

On Long Island, crews are out in the town of Hempstead, preparing for the possibility of a lot of snow.

“The hard working men and women in Hempstead are getting into storm response mode again, readying over 200 pieces of equipment, loading up 9,000 tons of salt to be applied if it warrants it,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Lauren Gillen.

PSEG Long Island says it is closely monitoring the storm and said it’s emergency preparedness plans are activated in the event of outages.

On Monday, the Westchester County Board of Legislators held a special meeting on the massive power outages caused by the previous storms, grilling representatives of Con Ed and NYSEG.

Many customers in Westchester are still frustrated with the delayed response to power outages after those storms downed trees and power lines.

“There were three cables on the street, a pole with the transformer, a tree came down,” said Mamaroneck resident Karen Fontecchio.

In New Jersey, cleanup from March’s previous storms was still ongoing.

By Tuesday evening, Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency. He said the biggest shortfall during the last storm was the performance by utility companies, which the board of public utilities was investigating.

“We’re also, preemptively in this storm to get work, to nudge them and all others ahead of this,” Murphy said. “That encourages them bringing in other men and women from our sister utilities, which they are apparently doing.”

PSE&G says it has mobilized nearly 600 mutual aid and contract employees ahead of the storm. JCP&L representative Ron Morano says wind is once again a major concern. In preparation for Wednesday, the company is bringing in extra workers from Ohio and setting up two more staging areas in Ocean and Essex County.

In addition, the utility company will have a daily call with local officials to get feedback and response.

Electrician Mike Lettera of Big Electric in Paramus says generator installations were at an all-time high.

Meanwhile, the incoming storm is already having an impact on flights at area airports. Some cancellations have already been reported and some airlines are waiving ticket change fees.

Travelers are being urged to check with their carriers before heading to the airport.

Amtrak announced they’ll be offering modified modified service on Wednesday as the storm makes its way across the region.

“Full service will be restored when weather conditions allow us to safely do so,” the rail company tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Governor Murphy says his office was closely monitoring the approaching storm, and asked residents to stay home Wednesday. He urged people to only go out if necessary to avoid issues like the last time, when state police responded to hundreds of crashes and rescues from people stuck in cars and trucks.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)