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Nor’easter could bury the Big Apple in up to 2 feet of snow

The combination of heavy snow, gusty winds and coastal flooding will make travel difficult to impossible in the region and could knock out power over a wide area.

“Make no mistake: this storm will bring heavy snowfall, and it will make travel dangerous in every neighborhood in our city,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said in declaring a state of emergency. “New Yorkers should stay home, keep the roads clear for emergency vehicles, and let our plows work to keep us all safe.”

In Central Park, 5.3 inches of snow had fallen by early Monday. That’s already more than the city saw during the 2019-20 winter, when 4.8 inches fell.

On a five-tiered scale used by the National Weather Service, New York City could see level five, or extreme impacts. Near blizzard conditions are expected into Monday night, with gusts of 35-40 mph. The storm may not let up until Wednesday morning.

Covid-19 clinics in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and other locations in the region were closed on Monday because of the storm.

New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy, also declared a state of emergency, closing all state offices and the New Jersey Transit system.

“Heavy snow, coastal flooding, and high winds are expected in many parts of the state,” Murphy said. “The safety of residents and workers is our utmost priority. Please follow all weather-related guidance and stay off the roads in order to allow access for emergency personnel.”

More than 1,300 flights across the United States were preemptively canceled ahead of the nor’easter according to Flightaware.com.

Major hubs such as LaGuardia, Newark and JFK are reporting 70% to 80% of Monday’s scheduled flights as canceled.

Storm timing details

New York City

The flakes, which began late Sunday night will pick up intensity throughout Monday, and snowfall rates could get as high as 1 to 2 inches per hour. The storm could drop up to 21 inches by the time it ends Tuesday morning. If that happens, it will be the most snow New York City has seen since the January 22 to 24, 2016, storm that dumped 27.5 inches over a two-day period. It would also cement this storm as one of the most prolific winter storms for the city, placing it in the top 10 of largest snowfall totals on record.

Washington, DC

Snow began to fall in Washington, DC, on Sunday and then transitioned to a sleet and snow mix, coating roadways with ice adding to driving danger. For a brief period Monday morning, the snow will become rain, changing back to snow by the afternoon and into the night before ending Tuesday morning. The district could end up with a total of 5 to 7 inches, the most in the last two years.

Philadelphia

A similar combination of rain and snow is expected in Philadelphia, where snow began Sunday evening. It will briefly change over to a rain and snow mix in the morning. A switch to all snow is expected by midday Monday. A final total expected there will be around a foot.

Boston

Farther north, Boston should see snow beginning Monday morning and continuing through the day into the overnight before tapering off late Tuesday morning. Total accumulations could be between 12 to 18 inches and prompted the city to issue a snow emergency.

Boston is accustomed to significant snowfall, having alerted crews to plow 2,000 lane miles of the city’s roadways through Tuesday.

That’s equivalent of the distance from Boston to Denver being cleared of snow in under 48 hours.

The placement and track of this multiday storm will play major role in the snowfall totals across the Northeast. A storm close to the coastline will produce more rainfall, while one too far offshore will reduce moisture and lead to less snowfall.

Ice on roadways could add to driving danger

Models suggest this nor’easter should be in the sweet spot for abundant moisture that could lead to significant snowfall. Another important factor has also been in play, increasing the confidence for the impacts of the storm.

According to CNN meteorologist Tom Sater, this storm is tapping cold Canadian air. “A strong high pressure system is in place over southeast Canada, pushing plenty of cold air far south enough and lasting long enough to get the kind of snowfall being forecast.”

Storm history

Watches and warnings span multiple states

Nearly 75 million across a dozen states are under some kind of winter watch or warning from a storm which had its genesis in the Midwest Saturday. While there, the storm dropped more than foot of snow in Milwaukee.

Metro Chicago, with 10.5 inches, saw the most snow since 2018. Official snow totals from the National Weather Service ranged from 1 inch to 13 inches so far in the Midwest.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had the wrong first name for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.


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