ALBANY, N.Y. — A day after a storm dumped more than a foot of snow, causing tens of thousands of people to lose power and stalling air and rail traffic, weather-weary Northeast residents braced for a repeat — a second storm packing potentially damaging wind gusts up to 50 mph and possibly more than another foot of snow.
The second part of the two-day, 1-2 winter punch was expected Thursday, and the National Weather Service said the storm would be “significant and long-lasting.”
As much as a foot of snow was expected in Philadelphia, which has had its snowiest winter with more than 70 inches and is still digging out from back-to-back storms around the beginning of this month. The Albany area, which was pounded by Wednesday’s weather, can expect more of the same for a second day, and the western Catskills could get up to 20 inches of snow.
Even before a flake fell, the impending storm set off some sharp exchanges among competing forecasters, with one warning of a “snowicane.”
The National Weather Service criticized State College, Pa.-based Accuweather Inc. for referring to the storm that way and for saying it would be “hurricane-like” and a “monster.” NWS meteorologist Craig Evanego said the terminology was “almost inciting the public, inciting panic.”
Accuweather called the NWS criticism “unfounded” and said there’s nothing wrong with using language that gets people’s attention when the situation calls for it.
Wednesday’s storm cut a swath from eastern Pennsylvania into northern New England, blanketing typically snowy regions that had been spared the paralyzing storms that hit cities farther south earlier this winter. By afternoon, some areas around Albany had about 2 feet of wet, heavy snow that clogged snowblowers and stranded pickup trucks trying to plow it out. About 150,000 customers lost power, hundreds of schools were closed and at least three traffic deaths were blamed on the storm.
Utilities warned that more outages could occur.
While Wednesday’s storm missed Philadelphia, city residents faced the latest blast of winter with a bit of dread.
“Yeah, I’m kind of tired of it,” said Dave Pearson, who was walking a beagle late Wednesday in tony Rittenhouse Square, where much of the grass was still streaked with slushy remnants of previous storms. “We’ll see if it happens. I’m tired of it … we’ll have to deal with it.”
Sam Sargent said Philadelphia’s record-breaking winter is nothing compared to what he saw during three years in Rochester, N.Y. — but that doesn’t mean he’s happy to see so much of it.
“I left Rochester because I didn’t like the snow,” the Academy of the Arts photography student said. “I’m ready for spring to come.”
The system creating the storm forecast to travel up the Atlantic Coast was causing problems in the South on Wednesday. The weather service issued a winter storm warning through Friday morning for mountainous areas of western North Carolina, where forecasters said up to 10 inches of snow was possible by Thursday evening.
The northern edge of Wednesday’s storm reached into Massachusetts’ Berkshires, Vermont and New Hampshire, dumping more than a foot of snow in some areas and prompting flooding concerns in Maine.
The storm ended a long stretch without a major snowfall in eastern New York and northern New England. The region had avoided much of the severe weather that slammed the mid-Atlantic in recent weeks.
Some New England areas had been forced to cancel winter festivals, dog sled races and snow sculpting events this year due to the lack of snow. At Vermont’s Mad River Glen ski area, the storm “was a godsend,” spokesman Eric Friedman said.