| NEW YORK
NEW YORK The East Coast is bracing for a winter storm that is expected to dump as much as 12 inches 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 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 on New York's Central Park over 17 hours on December 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 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 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, 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)