Winter Storm to Dump More Snow Across Country; Travel Delays Expected

Buckets of snow falling in Boston. Ice cracking trees and bringing down power lines in Philadelphia. Temperatures nearly 50 degrees below normal in the High Plains.

winter-storm-oklahoma-city

Heavy snow fell in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. (Credit: KFOR)

Another day, another storm, in what’s proving to be a wet, wild and nasty winter.

From the Midwest to New England, more than 120 million people are yet again bundling up against cold, ice, snow or all three, according to CNN meteorologists.

Some are taking it in stride.

“Only perk of going to school in Boston: SNOW DAYSSSSSSSS,” Facebook user Carla Torres posted.

Others were ready for it to be all over. One item frequently shared Wednesday over social media was a picture of an angry-looking baby, with the words “What do you mean more snow ….” superimposed on it.

Here’s a look at what winter’s bringing around the country:

Who’s getting hit worst?

For snow and ice, parts of the Midwest and Northeast in a band running from Illinois east all the way to Maine. For cold temperatures, it’s the nation’s midsection, from Montana east to Wisconsin all the way south to northern Texas.

What’s the forecast?

It’s going to be awfully cold in the Plains and High Plains — as much as 40 degrees below average in some places, according to the National Weather Service. In Helena, Montana, for instance, Wednesday’s high is forecast to be 3 degrees below zero. That compares with 2 degrees on Tuesday and the average high of 36.

Snowy, icy conditions are expected from eastern Missouri into the mid-Atlantic and New England. Up to 2 inches of snow per hour may fall around Boston, with as much as a foot of snow predicted in parts of Massachusetts.

What’s being affected?

In New York, where heavy snows are taxing salt reserves, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the entire state and shut down I-84 amid heavy snow.

“New Yorkers in affected regions should stay off the roads, check on their neighbors and loved ones, and stay inside their homes until the worst of the storm has passed,” he said in a statement.

The state Department of Transportation said it was waiving rest rules for salt-truck drivers to get remaining salt stockpiles moved to where they are needed — New York City and Long Island.

In Philadelphia, freezing rain left more than 500,000 homes and businesses without power early Wednesday, according to PECO, Philadelphia’s main electric utility. More outages are expected as ice accumulations cause more damage throughout the region, PECO spokeswoman Cathy Engel Menendez said.

In Baltimore, 80,000 homes and businesses were without power, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company said. Another 43,100 had no power in parts of New Jersey, utilities there said.

In Arkansas, where the storm brought ice Tuesday, more than 41,000 homes and businesses were without power, utility company Entergy said.

Wet, heavy snow coated Boston in the early morning hours. City officials banned on-street parking and vowed to get an early start on treating roads, but some on Twitter said conditions were ugly.

“Why is nothing plowed!? Driving is terrifying,” Twitter user Kerryn McDonough posted Wednesday morning.

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Molloy asked state workers categorized as nonessential to stay home.

“It is messy out there,” he said. “This is a very heavy snow. It’s packed in places and local roads are in terrible shape.”

In the Midwest, more than 13 inches had fallen in Topeka, Kansas, by early Wednesday, the weather service said.

Road crews were working 12-hour shifts to clear it.

“(But) there’s actually no place to plow the snow,” Ron Raines, Topeka’s street maintenance supervisor, told CNN affiliate WIBW-TV.

Crews leave it in the middle of the streets, out of the travel lanes. Private contractors haul it out from there.

Two Delta Airlines aircraft got stuck in the snow in unrelated airport incidents — one in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the other in Detroit.

This comes a day after a Southwest Airlines plane hit a snowbank as it was taxiing to the gate in Kansas City, according to airline spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger.

Nationwide, airlines had canceled more than 2,300 flights, according to flight tracking website Flightaware.com.

Most affected among major airports was New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport, where FlightAware said nearly half the flights had been canceled and another 16% delayed.

Other airports with big problems: New York’s LaGuardia and Boston’s Logan International.

Why all the severe weather this winter?

Boston is about 8 inches ahead of its normal snowfall pace for the year, according to the National Weather Service. In New York, the number is 23 inches.

It’s unusual, but not unprecedented, Radley Horton, a climate scientist with Columbia University, told CNN’s “New Day.”

“If we look at winters in the past, we can get this kind of setup with a very wavy jet stream. Colder air spills into one side (while) the other side the country has extremely warm weather,” he said.

It’s possible that melting Arctic sea ice could be contributing to that instability in the jet stream, making cold snaps more common in some parts of the country even as it makes other places warmer.

“There’s always going to be variability,” Horton said. “There’s always going to be these waves in the jet stream. But it does seem according to some research as we lose that sea ice in the Arctic, one possible surprise could be more cold air spilling south, more warm air going north.”