A potential “historic” storm bore down on the northeastern US yesterday, with heavy snow, blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures forecast from New York through Maine, as well as densely populated inland areas.
The National Weather Service (NWS) predicted a “major winter storm” for yesterday into Saturday and said New York City was in the mix for blizzard conditions, which will combine sustained strong winds and snowfall.
“Two weather systems from the polar and subtropical jet streams will combine to produce a major and potentially historic winter storm,” the NWS said.
The storm was expected to pound Boston particularly hard, but forecasters said the system should blow through later today, with milder temperatures to follow.
“The storm should reach its peak intensity early Saturday morning just east of Cape Cod,” the weather service said, forecasting between 30cm and 60cm of snow across the region.
Strong winds of 40km to 56km per hour, with hurricane-strength gusts of up to 120kph, were expected, creating deep drifts.
Forecasters said New York would see accumulations of more than a 30cm of snow, while Boston, where schools were ordered closed, was due to be buried under as much as 60cm, with far more in the drifts.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said city schools would remain open, but the Staten Island ferry would operate on a reduced schedule, and residents were advised to prepare for worse.
“Due to potential power outages and transportation difficulties, New Yorkers are advised to stock up on potential supplies, including medicine,” he said.
About 900 flights were canceled and thousands more were delayed although the worst weather was not expected until yesterday.
In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino ordered non-essential city employees to stay home and put into effect a parking ban.
“This is going to be a very serious storm,” the mayor said in a statement. “Safety is our No. 1 priority.”
People old enough to remember are already comparing the coming storm to the ferocious Blizzard of 1978, which killed 100 people, pummeling Boston with more than 68cm of snow and Providence, Rhode Island with nearly 71cm.