The northeaster, a chilly brew of rain and wet snow blown in by gusts almost as powerful as those recorded during the hurricane, arrived with the dismaying potential to disrupt efforts to bring life back to normal from the Jersey Shore to the East End of Long Island.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie warned that the northeaster could leave many people in the dark again, only a few days after their power had been restored. "I can see us actually moving backwards," he said in a news conference on Long Beach Island, which suffered some of the heaviest damage in the storm last week. The barrier island had reopened to residents, but as the northeaster closed in, the governor said he was cutting off access again.
The storm, which covered cars and trees in the region in a coat of white, brought down power lines faster than repair crews could keep up, and fierce winds and blowing snow threatened to drive the crews off the job. By about 5 p.m., the northeaster had knocked out electricity to roughly 13,000 Consolidated Edison customers. All told, about 77,000 Con Edison customers had no power on Wednesday evening, up from about 64,000 earlier in the day, according to the company's Web site.
The numbers also went up on Long Island. The Long Island Power Authority began the day saying that 184,000 customers still lacked power. By day's end, the total was 199,000.
About 151,000 Public Service Electric and Gas customers in New Jersey had no power before the new storm arrived. The company said the storm caused an additional 90,000 power failures statewide. By late Wednesday, Jersey Central Power and Light was reporting more than 219,000 customers without electricity.
About 6:40 p.m., the Long Island Rail Road temporarily suspended departures from Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn after a series of storm-related problems on several of its lines. But later, limited service was restored.
The storm also snarled traffic in some areas, particularly along the Taconic State Parkway in Putnam and Westchester Counties, where the State Police said there had been multiple accidents.
As snow from the northeaster made roads slippery and sloppy, the police said the death toll in New York City from the hurricane had risen to 41 with the death of William McKeon, 78, at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens. Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said Mr. McKeon was found on Tuesday "at the bottom of a pitch-black stairwell that was still wet and covered with sand" at 106-20 Shore Front Parkway in Rockaway, Queens. His head was bleeding and he was unconscious and unresponsive, Mr. Browne said, adding that the medical examiner's office determined on Wednesday that Mr. McKeon's injuries were storm-related.
The northeaster was another storm with an impossible-to-miss footprint on the weather maps. Its white swirl, smaller than the hurricane's, looked ferocious. Road crews feared it would bring annoying slush and, later on, treacherous ice to hard-luck places where debris from the hurricane was still being cleared away.
"This is the last thing we needed when we just started making progress," said Nicole DeGorter, 19, a college student and lifelong resident of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, one of the communities that city officials were most concerned about. She said that the hurricane had driven her from her family's house, where eight feet of water was churning on top of three feet of sand in the basement, and that she had moved into an uncle's apartment nearby with five other people and four dogs.
"It feels like it can't get any worse," Ms. DeGorter said at midday Wednesday, as the cold rain started to fall.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said low-lying areas had survived high tide on Wednesday afternoon without being inundated all over again, and a National Weather Service forecaster, David Stark, said the high tide had "come in under what we had initially expected, which is a good thing."
But the mayor and other officials remained concerned about areas the hurricane had walloped. "The difference" between last week and this week, Mr. Bloomberg said, "is the barriers of sand or rock that were there before are not there."
The Weather Service's coastal flood warning for New York Harbor remained in effect as the northeaster gained force, as did a wind warning for the city, Long Island and coastal Connecticut. But Mr. Stark said the surprise was the snow. He said two inches had been reported in Bayside, Queens, and 3 1/2 inches in Armonk, N.Y., in Westchester County. He said reports from inland sections of Fairfield County and New Haven County in Connecticut had mentioned three to five inches. Later, parts of Westchester reported as much as seven inches of snow.
It was an ominous mix in places like Breezy Point, Queens, where there was a fear of the streets, not just because of the northeaster, but also because of unattended homes and stores that could tempt thieves. Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway was dotted with police checkpoints to ward off potential looters, an officer said.
Ian Allyn, who was repairing a hurricane-battered drugstore while the first floor of his house sat in ruins, said, "I don't think I can take another storm right now."
(Reporting was contributed by J. David Goodman, Andy Newman, Sarah Maslin Nir, Michael Schwirtz and Daniella Silva)
© 2012, The New York Times News Service