September 26, 2022
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FireNews : Nor’easter threatens blizzard conditions and coastal flooding on East Coast. It could be a historic storm in parts of New England #FireNews365

The combination of howling winds — as strong as 70 miles per hour in some areas — along with fast-accumulating snow is a recipe for blizzard conditions, particularly in the New England states.

Nearly 55 million people, stretching from the Mid-Atlantic to New England, were under winter weather alerts Saturday morning.

Whiteout conditions are expected across the region, and several governors declared states of emergency as they urged residents to stay off roads. There are also warnings of coastal flooding and the possibility of power outages due to downed utility lines.

And while the storm’s path has been uncertain in the run-up to this winter storm, key points were clearer Saturday.

Between 2 to 6 inches of snow had fallen early Saturday in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast — with more on the way.

More than 12 inches of snow are expected to blanket parts of the Mid-Atlantic Coast through eastern New England, the NWS Weather Prediction Center said Friday afternoon. The Boston metro area faces the potential of more than 2 feet of snow that’s expected to collect quickly. Snow is projected to fall at rates of 2 to 4 inches per hour in some locations.

Blizzard warnings issued Friday covered 10 million people across 10 states in coastal counties from Virginia to New England — but excluding New York City. Notable locations within the warning are Portland, Maine; Boston and Cape Cod, Massachusetts; the eastern half of New York’s Long Island; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Ocean City, Maryland.

‘Historic major winter storm for eastern New England’

Travel will be difficult to impossible due to whiteout conditions created by the heavy snow and strong winds, the NWS predicted. In a blizzard, snow is joined by winds gusting over 35 mph for more than three hours, creating visibility of less than a quarter of a mile.

“The strong-to-damaging winds will lead to scattered power outages,” the NWS warned.

There is “high confidence” this will be a “historic major winter storm for eastern New England,” with widespread snowfall of one to two feet, the National Weather Service said Friday evening.

Plus, extremely cold temperatures and coastal flooding are possible, the Weather Prediction Center warned.

“Coastal flooding is a concern thanks to astronomically high tides on Saturday,” the weather service office in Boston said. “The combination of strong northeast winds and high seas will bring storm surges that, if coinciding with high tide, would lead to minor or moderate coastal flooding.”

The difference in storm timing — even as few as six hours — would make a massive difference in impact on coastal flooding and erosion concerns.

More than 3,500 flights within, into or out of the US have been canceled Saturday, according to FlightAware.

These northeastern states expected to see the worst of it

Eastern Massachusetts, including Boston, will bear the brunt of the system as forecast models predict between 18 to 24 inches of snow combined with wind gusts up to 70 mph.

Two to 4 inches per hour could fall in Boston, with conditions likely to peak between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday. Similar snow total and wind predictions are in place for Rhode Island.

Boston declared a “snow emergency” that began Friday at 9 p.m.

“This has a potential to be a historic storm, a huge one,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said. “This is likely to be an intense, dangerous storm, with heavy snow, high winds and whiteout conditions.”

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation implemented a travel ban for large trucks on interstate highways for Saturday because of the severe winter weather forecast.

The travel ban will take effect “Saturday between 6:00 a.m. through midnight for tractor trailer trucks, tandems and special permit haulers,” MassDOT said.

Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm and took precautions a step further by signing a travel ban beginning Saturday at 8 a.m. through 8 p.m. due to whiteout conditions.

Some of the heaviest snow is projected to fall in parts of New Hampshire, Maine, and Long Island, New York– where 12 to 24 inches of snow are forecast.

The blizzard-like conditions have led Amtrak to cancel train service on Saturday for various lines, including Acela service between Washington, DC, and Boston as well as regional service between Boston and New York, the company said Friday.

A food delivery driver on a bicycle rides in the snow on Friday in New York City.

Tri-state area, Pennsylvania and Delaware

Meanwhile, the governors of New York and New Jersey also declared states of emergency.

New York City could get 6 to 12 inches of snow with 45 mph gusts, while 14 inches could pile up elsewhere in New York state as well as Connecticut, where wind gusts may be as strong as 55 mph, CNN meteorologists and the weather service predicted.

But the weather service said early Friday that there is a 10% chance the storm may dump more than 17 inches of snow in New York City and also predicts a 10% chance of 4 inches of snow.

1,500 US flights canceled for Saturday, as winter storm is set to pummel East Coast

The impact in New York City will peak from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

As a precaution, all Long Island Rail Road service will be suspended beginning Saturday morning, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

Across the Hudson River, northeast New Jersey could see 7 to 10 inches of snow, with winds gusting up to 45 mph.

The southern portion of New Jersey may see up to 18 inches of snow, and projections are similar in southern Delaware, according to the NWS.

The Philadelphia area in eastern Pennsylvania is also expected to get 4 to 11 inches of snow.

Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina

The governors of Maryland and Virginia issued states of emergency in their states, where a blizzard warning is in effect in some areas through Saturday night.

Between 8 and 12 inches of snow could pile up in parts of southeast Maryland and eastern and southeast Virginia, where winds are expected to gust as high as 50 mph.

Snow projections in central North Carolina are lower, with 1 to 2 inches expected as a winter weather advisory remains in places until 9 a.m. Saturday, the NWS said.
“Hazardous travel conditions will result from slippery or snow-covered roads. Snow may also reduce visibility to less than a mile overnight,” NWS said in the advisory.

CNN’s Haley Brink and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.

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