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Nor'easter brings wind, snow to battered East Coast

11:51 AM, Nov 7, 2012   |    comments
This satellite picture released by the NOAA Wednesday shows a winter storm moving towards the East Coast, bringing threats of high winds and heavy snow to areas already hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy.(Photo: NOAA/ AFP/Getty Images)
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The nor'easter bringing high winds and heavy snow took aim at storm-staggered New York and New Jersey Wednesday, threatening storm surges and beach erosion that could complicate recovery efforts from last week's Superstorm Sandy.

Snow was already being reported Wednesday morning near Philadelphia and Atlantic City, according to AccuWeather, while Ice pellets have been reported in Long Island.

Snow was also reported around noon at JFK Airport and in Connecticut.

The National Weather Service predicted the storm would last into Thursday, bringing wind and wet snow to New Jersey, up to three inches of snow to Philadelphia and from six to 12 inches of snow to southeastern New York and New England.

United Airlines - the nation's biggest carrier - announced that it will suspend most service to and from the New York area between noon Wednesday and noon Thursday, USA TODAY's Ben Mutzabaugh reports on Today in the Sky.

These type of storms are called a "nor'easter" because they typically bring strong northeast winds over
the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast as they move north along the Atlantic Coast.

They form during late fall, winter and early spring and often bring heavy rain, heavy snow and severe coastal flooding to the East.

While meteorologists said this system lacked Sandy's devastating power, it still packed a threatening punch.

Sustained winds of 20 miles per hour to 40 miles per hour - with gusts as high as 60 miles per hour - were expected to buffet the nation's largest city.

A coastal flood advisory forecast a 3 ½-foot storm surge at the Battery, Manhattan's southern tip, on top of Wednesday afternoon's high tide, while a high surf warning forecast waves of 8-to-12 feet could pound beaches already stripped of protective sand and dunes by Sandy.

As with Sandy, "it's not the rain but the wind and coastal flooding that could be a problem," said Adrienne Leptich, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "We really don't need this right now."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered precautionary noontime closings of all parks, playgrounds and beaches and a temporary halt to outdoor construction projects.

City officials also encouraged motorists to stay off the road after 5 p.m., and to use extreme caution if they must drive.

Bloomberg said city emergency workers were urging residents in a handful of the lowest-lying coastal areas to move to higher ground, but he stopped short of issuing a mandatory evacuation as he did for Sandy.

City environmental workers and Army Corps of Engineers personnel, however, planned to examine city coastal areas that suffered the worst erosion during last week's storm to determine whether upgraded precautions were needed.

The mayor also said police patrol cars would provide loudspeaker warnings in the areas hit hardest by Sandy, including Staten Island and the Rockaways.

"Even though it's not anywhere near as strong as Sandy -- nor strong enough, in normal times, for us to evacuate anybody -- out of precaution and because of the changing physical circumstances, we are going to go to some small areas and ask those people to go to higher ground," Bloomberg said.

Some utilities that had reduced a backlog of power outages from Sandy acknowledged that the new storm could bring another round of service interruptions.

In New Jersey, mandatory evacuations have been issued for many shore towns for the second time in less than two weeks. High winds, which could reach 65 mph, could extend inland throughout the day, potentially stalling power restoration efforts or causing further outages.

The Salvation Army says warm clothing and shelter are now a growing need for displaced residents in addition to food and water, but warned it may be forced to suspend its mobile feeding kitchens until the storm clears.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says 95,000 people are eligible for emergency housing assistance. In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, more than 277,000 people have registered for general assistance, the agency said.

Meanwhile, the Weather Channel is duking it out with the National Weather Service over the storm's name:

The Weather Channel has dubbed the nor'easter "Winter Storm Athena," the first named storm of the network's new winter storm naming system.

However, the NWS released an official notice to its employees this morning:

The Weather Channel has named the nor'easter 'Athena.' The National Weather Service does not use named winter storms in our products. Please refrain from using the name Athena in any of our products.

USA Today

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