Blizzard conditions have closed roads and stranded passengers all along the I-95 East coast corridor. Canceled flights, and the costs of snow removal and salting are not good things. Moreover, retailers will be blaming blizzard condition for poor last minute sales.

Bloomberg: Major Snowstorm Threatens Blizzard for U.S. Northeast

A major snowstorm dumped a foot of snow on Washington D.C. and threatened blizzard conditions throughout the northeast U.S. on the last travel and shopping weekend before the Christmas holiday.

The accumulation was forecast to reach as much as two feet in the Washington area and 15 inches in New York City. Winter storm and blizzard warnings and watches extend from Georgia to Massachusetts.

Both Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport were open, but most airlines had canceled flights today.

Reuters: Storm threatens retailers’ last holiday push

Retailers are counting on time-crunched shoppers to swarm stores on “Super Saturday,” but a heavy winter storm threatened to strand them at home on the final weekend before Christmas.

“The one thing a retailer doesn’t want is a major snowstorm on the Saturday before Christmas,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group. “This is definitely not the Christmas gift any retailer would ever ask for.”

Severe weather could derail sales on Saturday at retailers with a large presence in cities from New York to Washington D.C., including Bon-Ton Stores, Saks Inc, Macy’s Inc and American Eagle Outfitters Inc.

Holiday sales forecasts have narrowed over the course of the shopping season to a range of down 1 percent to up 1 percent from 2008, when sales fell for the first time since the National Retail Federation started tracking the data.

“We believe retail sales will likely suffer as the sales lost during what historically has been the busiest weekend of the year will not be recovered. You can’t make up for lost days!” Stifel Nicolaus analyst Richard Jaffe said in a Friday note.

AccuWeather: Paralyzing Snow, Drifting, as Nor`easter Rips the East Overnight

Updated: Saturday, December 19, 2009 2:46 PM

Blizzard conditions with 1 to locally 2 foot snowfalls and winds gusting 40 to 60 mph will spread along the direct path of the storm from southeastern Pennsylvania, eastern Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Long Island, and southern New England. Essentially, this would be from Baltimore to Boston.

Worst of the storm will wind down this evening from New Jersey on west, but will rage on through the wee hours of Sunday on Long England and in southern New England.

Travel on interstate highways I-76, I-80, and I-95, not to mention countless local streets and highways, will be difficult and dangerous, even impossible.

Air travels will continue to take a major hit with flight cancellations through Eastern airports likely to number in the hundreds thanks to poor visibility and snow-clogged runways. Knock-on effects will be felt nationwide and beyond.

This storm already has a history of monstrous snowfalls. Amounts to 30 inches have buried West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands with two-feet burying in between Charlottesville, Virginia, and Beckley, West Virginia.

Every dime shoppers do not spend is economically a good thing as people need to stop spending money they do not have on things they do not need. However, assuming spending is indeed reduced, it would have been far better if the inducement was something other than an economically wasteful blizzard.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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