Winter storm to hit U.S. East Coast late Tuesday

* Financial markets expect business as usual

* Airlines cancel hundreds of flights pre-emptively

* New York hopes to correct mistakes from last blizzard

By Kristina Cooke

NEW YORK, Jan 11 (BestGrowthStock) – The U.S. East Coast is bracing
for a winter storm that is expected to dump as much as 12
inches (30 cm) of snow on New York and Boston starting Tuesday
night, disrupting commutes and travel plans.

The storm gives New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg a chance
to rebuild his reputation tarnished by a much-criticized
response to the blizzard that paralyzed New York less than two
weeks ago.

“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 on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm
warning, with forecasters predicting 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30
cm) of snow starting in New York and Boston late Tuesday night
and continuing through Wednesday.

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.”

Continental Airlines (UAL.N: ) said it has so far canceled
about 100 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.

Ed Martelle, a spokesman for American Airlines (AMR.N: ),
said he expects most flights due to land in New York, Boston
and Hartford, Connecticut, late Tuesday will be canceled. He
said he did not expect any international cancellations.

Bloomberg said the heaviest snowfall is expected just
before rush hour in New York on Wednesday morning and asked
commuters not to drive if possible.

Financial markets are likely to be largely unaffected by
the storm, 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.”

Greco said some employees who live outside Manhattan have
volunteered to stay in a hotel near work Tuesday to avoid the
morning commute.

The New York Stock Exchange expects to be open for business
as usual Wednesday.

The storm comes 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. Deep South on
Monday, killing at least three people in traffic accidents,
cutting off power to thousands and closing countless roads,
authorities said.
(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Daniel
Trotta; Editing by Eric Beech)