Cleanup crews ready New York City for parade a day after sleet, snow pelt Northeast

Sunday, March 18, 2007

NEW YORK -- 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.

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

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