By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Powerful winds and snow whipped parts of the eastern United States on Saturday, carrying the promise of a white Christmas while threatening to cause problems for the many Americans traveling for the holidays, meteorologists said.
The storm moving in from the Midwest was sending strong winds into the mid-Atlantic states and southern New England. It buried parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin in more than a foot (30 cm) of snow earlier this week.
Several inches of snow fell on Saturday in parts of western Pennsylvania.
The high winds could threaten to delay flights at airports in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, meteorologists said.
At late morning, slight delays were reported at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
More than 87 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home over the holidays, the travel and auto groups AAA has forecast. Nearly nine out of 10 will be on the roads, it said.
On Saturday, high winds and gusts were predicted in the New York City metropolitan area, eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.
It predicted hazardous conditions due to winds for upstate New York, northwestern Connecticut, southern Vermont and western Massachusetts.
A new storm could bring snow to the central Appalachians, northern mid-Atlantic and southern New England on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, Accuweather.com said.
"It could be a white Christmas after all in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, New England and other areas across the nation," said Alex Sosnowski, Accuweather senior meteorologist.
Snow could accumulate from Harrisburg and Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Hartford, Connecticut, and Boston, he said. New York City is likely to see a mix of snow and rain, he said.
Wintry air blowing off the eastern Great Lakes on Saturday was causing icy conditions in western and northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and West Virginia, Accuweather said.
Two to 5 inches (5 to 13 cm) of snow were expected in Buffalo.
A larger storm threatens to bring more snow to the eastern states in the days after Christmas, meteorologists said. (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)