Major winter storm wallops U.S. Northeast

* Financial markets expect business as usual

* Airlines cancel hundreds of flights preemptively

* New York hopes to correct mistakes from last blizzard

WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (BestGrowthStock) – The U.S. Northeast was hit by
its second major winter storm of the season, which was expected
to dump up to a foot (30 cm) of snow on New York City by
Wednesday evening and create chaos for commuters and travelers.

Airlines pre-emptively canceled hundreds of flights and
companies were advising some employees to work from home, while
oil prices jumped 2 percent on expectations the cold weather
would boost demand for heating oil. [O/R]

The storm could give New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg a
chance to make up for his much-criticized response to the
blizzard that paralyzed New York less than two weeks ago.

He declared a weather emergency late Tuesday that urged the
public to avoid driving, granted authorities the right to tow
cars blocking snow plows and allowed emergency services to “take
all appropriate and necessary steps” to ensure safety.

“We didn’t do the job that New Yorkers rightly expect of us
in the last storm and we intend to make sure that that does not
happen again,” Bloomberg told a news conference.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning,
with forecasters predicting 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) of snow
in New York starting on Tuesday evening and continuing through
Wednesday afternoon. It predicted 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm)
in Boston and 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) in Philadelphia.

Wind gusts from the northwest of up to 25 miles per hour (40
kph) throughout the region were expected to cause blowing and
drifting snow and sharply reduce visibility.

The previous storm — the sixth largest in city history —
dumped 20 inches (50 cm) on New York’s Central Park over 17
hours on Dec. 26 and 27.

National Weather Service forecaster Michael Eckert said that
while this storm will not be as strong and widespread, “for a
major metropolitan area, this is still a lot of snow and will
cause some disruption.”

By 4:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday (0900 GMT), around 6
inches (15 cm) of snow had fallen in and around New York City,
the NWS reported on its website (http://www.weather.gov/).

Continental Airlines (UAL.N: ) said it had canceled 244
flights, mainly from its hub at Newark Liberty International
Airport in New Jersey, for Tuesday evening. JetBlue (JBLU.O: )
said it has canceled 109 flights for Tuesday night and 137
Wednesday across the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic region.

American Airlines (AMR.N: ) had so far canceled 350 flights at
airports between Boston and Washington overnight and into
Wednesday morning. American Airlines spokesman Ed Martelle said
the airline does not expect any international cancellations.

The New York Stock Exchange expects to be open for business
as usual on Wednesday. Financial markets were likely to be
largely unaffected by the storm, though trading volume could
take a small hit, traders said. The last storm occurred in the
traditionally light-volume holiday period.

“For the most part, we’ve become a mobile and remote-access
business,” said Joseph Greco, managing director at Meridian
Equity Partners in New York. “Investors can get in pretty easily
and feel secure trading online.”

The storm began a day after the New York City Council held
hearings on the city’s snow response and Bloomberg issued a
15-point action plan aimed at correcting the mistakes.

In the previous storm, 600 buses got stuck in the snow, and
ambulances were unable to get through. Entire neighborhoods were
cut off for days.

Bloomberg said on Tuesday the city had 365 salt spreaders
and 1,700 plows ready to tackle the storm, with sanitation crews
on hand to work 12-hour shifts.

Snow and ice carpeted much of the U.S. South on Monday,
killing at least three people in traffic accidents, cutting off
power to thousands and closing countless roads.

Winter storm warnings or weather advisories were also in
effect throughout much of the Northeast, Midwest, central and
northern Appalachian and lower Great Lakes regions. Frigid
conditions were expected to persist until the weekend, keeping
travel conditions hazardous in many places.

Unusually, there was snow or ice on the ground in every
state except Florida.
(Reporting by Kristina Cooke and Ryan Vlastelica in New York;
Additional reporting by Eric Walsh in Washington; Editing by
Peter Graff)