Big Snowstorm Shakes Up ‘Crazy’ Winter

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(Photo credit: CNN)

By Ed Payne, CNN

A large snowstorm came barreling through the Northeast on Monday, threatening to drop 16 inches in some areas and frustrate commuters.

By Monday morning, Newfield, New York, was reporting 10 inches of snow, while Ridgebury, Pennsylvania, had 8 inches. More accumulation was expected, especially in higher elevations.

The blustery blast follows a mild winter that saw little snow and the warmest March on record.

“The last time we had a big snowstorm across the East Coast was back in October,” when fall foliage was still on the trees, said CNN Meteorologist Rob Marciano.

“This has been a crazy, crazy winter” in the region, he said.

Snowstorms of this magnitude are very rare for this late in April. Forecasters expect record snowfall for this time of year in some areas.

“We have a forestry division on standby that they’re going to be ready to respond to any tree problems and issues that we have,” Rob Kaczorowski of Pittsburgh Public Works told CNN affiliate KDKA-TV. Regarding snow removal, he said, this “will be a wet, slushy snow and we’ll be in a plow mode actually pushing the slush off the street.”

The highest recorded snowfall for Pittsburgh on this date was half an inch in 1956. Up to 5 inches of snow are forecast for Monday, the weather service said.

Snowfall rates in central Pennsylvania are expected to reach 1 inch per hour at times on Monday afternoon, said CNN Meteorologist Sean Morris.

One “bull’s-eye is Dubois, Pennsylvania,” he said.

Another is Erie, Pennsylvania, where snowfalls totals along the southern side of Lake Erie could reach 16 inches, Morris said.

“The snow will be heavy and wet. The weight of the snow accumulating on trees combined with gusty winds could cause branches to come down on power lines, resulting in widespread power outages,” he said.

Snowfall amounts of 6 to 14 inches are forecast for the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania and near Lake Erie, the National Weather Service said. Snow advisories also are posted for West Virginia, western New York and extreme northeastern Ohio.

The snow won’t last long, Morris said. Temperatures are expected to rise into the 40s and 50s this week, with overnight lows remaining above freezing.

Meanwhile, rain will challenge commuters along other parts of the Eastern Seaboard for parts of Monday, spilling precipitation from the Washington area into Maine. Flood advisories are in place across the region as the forecast calls for 2 to 4 inches of rain and widespread urban flooding.

The storm could also play havoc with air traffic in major business centers like New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, which will be subject to wind gusts of up to 31 mph in addition to the rain, forecasters said.

The storm could also snarl New York City’s sprawling mass transit system.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority was preparing for potential problems, including the possibility of snow affecting Metro North service upstate.

“The MTA has put together its emergency plans and preparations,” Joseph Lhota, executive director of the authority, told affiliate NY1. “The subway system, Long Island Railroad and Metro North as well as all of our bridges and tunnels are on alert with the concern of wind as well as the amount of water that we’re about to receive.”

The Long Island Power Authority also braced for the storm’s fury.

“LIPA crews are ready to respond to any potential power outages caused by damaging winds and will work … to restore power as quickly and safely as possible,” the utility’s website said.

The system rained out both the Mets and Yankees baseball games on Sunday.

— CNN’s Leslie Tripp and Jacqui Jeras contributed to this report.