Winter storm 'Athena' heads for the Catskills, with hundreds still out of power

Above: Detail from a National Weather Service weather forecast map issued at 3:53 am today. Source: NWS Binghamton website.

Forecasters are tracking a nor'easter that looks likely to dump snow and sleet across a wide swath of the northeastern U.S. starting this afternoon, with up to 8 inches expected in the high peaks of the Catskills.

In a blog post published today, the Weather Channel explains why they have taken it upon themselves to name the storm "Athena":

...without Sandy, we may not have named this storm. However, one of our main reasons for naming events is societal impact. With so many people still under recovery efforts -- even well inland -- the combination of heavy, wet snow and wind prompted the decision to name this storm. The decision to name was based on a trend in models toward a colder pattern with additional snowfall along the Northeast Coast.

The National Weather Service in Albany issued a winter weather advisory at 11:51 am across Greene, Ulster, Columbia and Dutchess Counties, calling for two to six inches of snow accumulation in valley areas and four to eight inches in the high peaks. Snowfall is expected to begin early this afternoon and continue overnight, with gusty winds that may mean poor visibility as well as slippery conditions on the roads.

One of the best and most thorough weather information sources in the region is Hudson Valley Weather, a local Facebook page run by amateur meteorologist Alex Marra that has been posting regular updates on the storm's progress since last week. Hudson Valley Weather will continue to issue updates on the storm as it moves into the Hudson Valley and Catskills.

For those still struggling with power outages, Athena's timing couldn't be worse. Although most areas in the Catskills have been restored to power after widespread Sandy-related outages, some places are still in the dark. As of the time of this post, NYSEG's outage map was reporting that 175 of the households it serves in Sullivan County, and 54 in Ulster County, are still without power. Orange & Rockland reports 468 Sullivan County households without power. Central Hudson reports that all of its Sullivan and Ulster County households are back online.