Flights canceled, floods feared in New York gale

Airlines suspended flights to and from New York for a day Wednesday in response to gale force winds, while residents in the area still recovering from superstorm Sandy braced for new flooding.

The severe weather, with sleet, rain and winds gusting to a maximum of 60 miles (96 kilometers) per hour, came just over a week after hurricane-strength Sandy wrought serious damage on the region and caused travel chaos.

The gale, though less powerful than Sandy, raised concerns for the tens of thousands of people around New York remaining without power and often heating

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday announced a limited evacuation of some neighborhoods ahead of possible flooding and NY1 local television showed earth movers making a sand berm along the beach to protect the hard-hit Rockaways neighborhood.

Similar small-scale evacuations were ordered in low-lying parts of New Jersey.

"Under normal circumstances, it would likely result in minor coastal flooding in low-lying areas, and the normal risk of downed trees associated with these types of storms," the mayor's office said.

However, Sandy had already weakened trees, so "the predicted wind speeds present an increased risk of more downed trees and tree limbs, as well as windblown debris. All New Yorkers are urged to stay indoors during inclement conditions."

American Airlines and American Eagle announced a suspension of all flights in Philadelphia from 1700 GMT and in New York-area airports by 2000 GMT, affecting about 290 flights.

Operations were to resume normally once the gale passes on Thursday.

United Airlines had already announced similar measures, with flights from John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports around New York being suspended.

The Port Authority, which runs the airports, said "due to inclement weather forecasted for Wednesday, November 7th through Thursday, November 8th, travelers (at JFK) should check with their airlines for the status of their flights."

Sandy, which began as a deadly hurricane in the Caribbean, slammed 15 eastern US states and prompted a huge tidal surge that killed at least 109 people in the United States and Canada and caused tens of billions of dollars worth of damage.

The coastal regions of New York and New Jersey were hardest-hit when Sandy crashed ashore on October 29.

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