New York, New England brace for storm

A rare Christmas Day snowfall creates a veritable winter wonderland along a roadway in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday morning, Dec. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)A rare Christmas Day snowfall creates a veritable winter wonderland along a roadway in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday morning, Dec. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)
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NEW YORK | A winter storm made travel torturous in the Northeast on Sunday, dumping a thick layer of snow that stranded thousands of airline, train and bus passengers and made motorists think twice about hitting after-Christmas sales.

Up to 20 inches of snow were expected in some areas, including Philadelphia, where the Eagles-Vikings NFL game was postponed, and Boston, where an aquarium had to protect — of all things — penguin ice sculptures from the elements. More than 1,400 flights had been canceled out of the New York City area’s three major airports alone, and more cancellations were expected Monday.

For many people, however, the storm’s timing was perfect: the day after Christmas, a Sunday, no school for at least a week.

“Love snowy days when I don’t have to go anywhere. Staying in — just me and my cozy new socks,” author Neesha Meminger wrote on Twitter from her home in the Bronx.

She told the AP she’s able to savor the moment because her children, ages 6 and 9, are on holiday break: “If this was during the school week, I would be cursing.”

Brandon Locklear (left) and Jeff Orrock, meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Raleigh, N.C., track the snowstorm moving into the Triangle area on Saturday evening, Dec. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Takaaki Iwabu)

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Brandon Locklear (left) and Jeff Orrock, meteorologists with the National Weather Service ... more >

Colleen and Graham James of Montclair, N.J., represented the other side of the coin. They were at Newark Airport with their two young children and their dachshund, trying to reach family in Iowa, but their connecting flight to Chicago was delayed more than two and a half hours.

“We left the day after Christmas to avoid the Christmas craze. I guess that didn’t work out so well,” Colleen James said.

Graham James was resigning himself to postponing their trip a month. “Now we’re worried about just driving home because of the crazy snow,” he said.

Airlines canceled flights throughout the Northeast and at airports in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Chicago and the Carolinas. They expected more cancellations Monday, but were trying to rebook passengers and hoped to resume normal operations Tuesday.

U.S. Airways had already canceled 110 Monday flights by Sunday afternoon — spokesman Jim Olson said that was to try to keep passengers and crews from getting stranded at airports.

New York’s Kennedy Airport was calm, apparently because many would-be travelers elected not to trudge to the terminal in hopes of getting rebooked.

Andrew Brent’s flight to Florida was repeatedly pushed back, and the New York mayoral spokesman thought he might have to wait until Monday to meet up with his wife and son for vacation. But he added, “I’ll get down there eventually so I’m not terribly worried.”

Amtrak, meanwhile, canceled train service from New York to Maine on Sunday evening, after doing the same earlier for several trains in Virginia. Bus companies canceled routes up and down the East Coast, affecting thousands of travelers.

Kate Lindquist, on her way home from New Hampshire to New York City, was greeted with a handwritten sign at a Boston bus station: “Sorry, we are closed today.”

“To have this happen on a Sunday during a holiday weekend is incredibly frustrating,” she told the AP in an e-mail.

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