Winter Storm Warnings Issued in New York Tri-State Area Cause Severe Disruptions With Thousands of Flight Cancelations

New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and other parts of the region are expected to see their first blast of snow accumulation for the winter season (between one and 6 inches), with winter storm warnings, winter storm watches and winter weather advisories in effect across large portions of the Northeast, following a strong storm system that made its way to the region over the Thanksgiving weekend.

A winter storm warning (which is issued "when a significant combination of hazardous winter weather is occurring or imminent," the National Weather Service (NWS) explains) is in effect until 7 a.m. Tuesday (local time) across parts of the New York tri-state area including northeast New Jersey, interior southern Connecticut and southeast New York. Heavy snow and mixed precipitation are expected in the region through Monday night, with snow accumulations of 5 to 10 inches and ice accumulations of up to one quarter of an inch, with the potential for snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour, the NWS predicts.

"Scattered power outages and downed tree limbs and branches are likely due to the ice. Travel could be difficult. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning and evening commute on Monday, the NWS warns.

Several parts of New York State remain under winter storm warnings through the morning and evening of Tuesday, with some areas, including Albany, Buffalo and Binghamton, expected to see heavy snowfall of up to 2 feet and temperatures remaining in the upper 20s to mid 30s degrees (Fahrenheit), the NWS predicts.

The Western and central Mohawk Valley including all of Fulton County, Schoharie County, eastern Catskills and Helderbergs of Albany are all under a winter storm warning until 7 a.m. (local time) Tuesday, with heavy snow accumulation between 12 and 24 inches forecast, and locally higher amounts up to 30 inches.

The Monday morning and evening commute will be impacted and "travel could be very difficult to impossible," the NWS warns.

Winter storm warnings remain in place until midnight on Monday evening in the Onondaga, Cortland, Broome, Otsego, Delaware and Sullivan counties of New York and in the Susquehanna, Northern Wayne Lackawanna, Pike and Southern Wayne counties of Pennsylvania, with total snowfall expected to reach between 8 and 12 inches, the NWS reports.

Winter storm warnings are in place until 7 a.m. (local time) Tuesday morning in Southern Vermont, Western Massachusetts, the Capital Region, Lake George Saratoga region and in the central Taconics of eastern New York (with between 12 and 24 inches of snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain expected), and until 4 a.m. (local time) in the Pennsylvania counties of Carbon and Monroe and The New Jersey counties of Sussex, Warren and Morris, with 6 to 10 inches of heavy snow accumulation expected.

The city of New Brunswick and the New Jersey counties of Hunterdon, Somerset and Mercer as well as The Lehigh Valley and Bucks County in Pennsylvania are under the same winter storm warning, with heavy snow between 4 and 8 inches forecast, according to the NWS.

Snow, ice, rain spreading from the mid Atlantic to New England tonight. Expect a wintry Monday, with Warnings and Advisories in effect.

— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) December 2, 2019

Winter weather advisories are in effect until 7 a.m. (local time) Tuesday in other parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, including Boston and Hartford, as well as in portions of New Hampshire and southwest Maine, with snowfall to become steadier and heavier by Monday night, reaching between 3 and 9 inches, the NWS warns.

"A Winter Weather Advisory will be issued for any amount of freezing rain, or when 2 to 4 inches of snow (alone or in combination with sleet and freezing rain), is expected to cause a significant inconvenience, but not serious enough to warrant a warning," the NWS explains.

"Periods of snow will result in snow covered roads and limited visibilities. Slow down and use caution while driving.

"Check local Department of Transportation information services for the latest road conditions.

"The latest road conditions for the state you are calling from can be obtained by calling 511" or at the website, the NWS advises.

The latest storm system (named Winter Storm Ezekiel by The Weather Channel), which has been building last week moving from the West Coast to the Plains and Midwest before arriving in the Northeast this week, has seen thousands of flights delays and hundreds of flight cancelations across the country.

More than 8,200 flights traveling into, within or out of the country were delayed and 949 were canceled on Sunday, while around 279 have been delayed and around 165 flights have been canceled as of early Monday morning, according to the live global flight tracking website FlightAware.

Some inbound planes at Newark Liberty International Airport were reported to be delayed by more than 2.5 hours on average due to weather conditions, while around 100 flights in Denver were canceled due to high winds, according to CBS News.

Several airlines are offering fee waivers for flight changes on selected journeys, such as American Airlines.

"When severe weather or other uncontrollable events impact your flight and travel dates, you may be able to change your trip with no change fee," American Airlines states on its website.

Depending on which airport you are traveling to, through or from, your flight change fee may be waived if you "are traveling on an American Airlines flight, bought your ticket by November 29, 2019, are scheduled to travel December 1 - 2, 2019, can travel November 29 - December 5, 2019, don't change your origin or destination city, rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference," the airline confirms.

The first phase of the winter storm has brought quite a bit of freezing rain and sleet to much of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey today. The second phase of the storm will feature more snow, once the storm moves off the coast later tonight and especially Monday into Tuesday

— NWS Eastern Region (@NWSEastern) December 1, 2019

The flight change must be "booked by December 2, 2019 and completed within 1 year of original ticket date; difference in fare may apply. These changes can't be made online – you must contact Reservations," the airline adds. See the American Airlines website for full details.

Other airlines reported to be offering flight change fee waivers include United (waiving fees for passengers traveling through New England or San Francisco), Delta Air Lines (waiving fees for those traveling to/from the Midwest and Northeast regions), Southwest Airlines (allowing passengers traveling through selected airports in the Northeast and Minneapolis/St. Paul areas to be rebooked in the same class or be put on standby for another flight departing within/from 2 weeks of the original date/location), as well as JetBlue, USA Today reports.

New York State governor Andrew M. Cuomo has deployed members of the National Guard, as well as officials from the Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority and State Police to help combat the effects of the storm, with 524,000 tons of salt available to help tackle black ice and snowy roads.

"Roads have already begun to ice on I-88, I-99 and 1-84 in Broome County, Southern Tier Region. Additional Department of Transportation and State Police assets have been moved to I-84 to assist as black ice travels up the highway from Northeastern Pennsylvania. Bus service has been canceled out of Port Authority in New York City to Binghamton, Rochester, Buffalo, Ithaca and Syracuse until further notice," the governor's office stated on its official website.

Central Park New York City snow
A woman plays with her dog in Central Park after a snowstorm in March 2019 in New York City, which is expected to see its first episode of snow accumulation of the winter season this week. Getty Images