Cleanup Crews Ready New York City For Parade A Day After Sleet, Snow Pelt Northeast

Saturday, March 17th 2007, 2:45 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Cleanup crews were out early Saturday clearing snow and ice from Manhattan streets for the city's St. Patrick's Day parade, a day after a heavy storm buffeted the East Coast and caused the cancellation of more than 1,400 flights.

The sleet, snow and freezing rain that pelted the East Coast on Friday had tailed off Saturday as the weather system moved northward.

``We got the whole gamut there,'' Nelson Vaz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said early Saturday. He called it ``a pretty impressive late-winter storm.''

Eight inches of snow fell at Frostburg, Md., with 5 in New York City, and a record 2.13 inches of rain fell at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Up to 2 feet of snow fell in New York's northern Catskills.

In Hartford, Conn. and York, Pa., officials postponed their annual St. Patrick's Day parades. New York did not cancel its parade, and officials were expecting up to 2 million people to attend.

Hundreds of traffic accidents were blamed on the icy roads, including one involving a vehicle in President Bush's motorcade traveling from Washington to Camp David. No one was injured.

The weather was blamed for at least six traffic deaths in New Jersey, three in Pennsylvania and one in Maryland, authorities said.

JetBlue canceled nearly three-fourths of its scheduled flights on Friday to avoid the chaos that followed the Valentine's Day storm, when the company was slow to cancel flights and some passengers were stranded in planes for hours.

The airline also called off about 30 flights early Saturday, spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said. But she said JetBlue was expecting few, if any, cancellations after 9 a.m.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said more than 1,400 flights were canceled Friday at the region's three major airports because of the storm. Delays also were reported at airports in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore-Washington and Boston.

At Newark International, Karen Opdyke was trying to get to Miami for a cruise with her husband, three young children and mother after their 9 a.m. flight was canceled.

``We got on the plane, we got off the plane. We got on the plane and off the plane,'' Opdyke, 48, said as she balanced a crying child next to a pile of luggage. She didn't have any luck rescheduling. ``There's nothing available all week.''

In New Hampshire, three presidential hopefuls canceled appearances because of the weather _ Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. McCain, Dodd and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., were campaigning in the state Saturday.

Schools were closed throughout the Northeast and some government agencies sent workers home early.

Winter officially ends at the vernal equinox Tuesday evening, but climatologists said it was not unusual for storms to arrive well into March.

``Usually you have the biggest storms in March,'' said meteorologist Kevin Lipton in Albany, N.Y.

On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that this winter was the warmest worldwide since record keeping began in 1880.