- Over 75 million Americans were under some level of winter weather alert as of Friday morning.
- Officials said wind-blown snow could make travel “nearly impossible.”
- The blizzard could wind up as historic in Boston.
A powerful nor’easter was forecast for the Northeast from Friday night into Saturday, a storm that’s predicted to bring blizzard conditions to coastal areas from Virginia to Maine.
In all, over 75 million Americans were under some level of winter weather alert as of Friday afternoon, including the Chicago metro area, which saw its own lake-effect snowstorm Friday.
Speaking about the East Coast storm, AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jon Porter said it will be “a dangerous, life-threatening storm,” bringing a blizzard to some areas, particularly in southern New England.
“Bands of heavy snow will develop in eastern New England during the heart of the storm that can produce 2 to 4 inches of snow per hour – extremely intense snowfall rates,” he added. “There will also be the potential for thunder and lightning associated with these intense bands.”
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Officials also said wind-blown snow could make travel “nearly impossible.” Forecasters say the storm could unload over 3 feet of snow and up to 90-mph winds as it pounds eastern New England.
The strong winds raised concerns about potential power outages. The Eversource utility company, which serves much of New England, secured hundreds of extra repair crews and is placing them in locations that are expected to be hardest hit by the storm.
Across New England, the inevitable, shelf-clearing rush for bread, eggs, milk and other vittles at grocery stores was well underway Friday. Merrick McCormack, 51, of Cranston, Rhode Island, was among hundreds who packed a Shaw’s Supermarket in neighboring Warwick for last-minute items.
“I don’t fuss with storms. I know in a couple of days, we’re going to be free and clear. No need to panic,” McCormack said.
The National Weather Service warned that “significant beach erosion and coastal flooding will also be a concern.
Colder forecast temperatures after the storm mean dangerous wind chills are possible Saturday night. In Boston, wind chills could dip as low as 7 below zero.
“This has the potential to be a historic storm,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said during a news conference Friday morning.
A snow emergency goes into effect in Boston at 9 pm, when parking will be banned on major city streets. The city has not seen a snowstorm deliver more than 2 feet of snow during the month of January. If amounts exceed 28 inches, which is possible, it would become the city’s biggest snow event on record, Axios reported.
New York City, meanwhile, could see up to a foot of snow from the storm, the National Weather Service predicted.
Airlines braced for the highest single-day total of cancellations in three weeks. By midday Friday, airlines had canceled more than 1,000 flights in the US, and they had already scrubbed about 2,500 scheduled for Saturday, according to tracking service FlightAware. The hardest-hit airports included those in Chicago, the New York City area and Boston.
The storm is classified as a nor’easter, named because of the direction from which the winds blow as the system moves up the coast. It’s also likely to become a “bomb cyclone,” a storm that rapidly intensifies as it undergoes “bombogenesis.”
WHAT IS A NOR’EASTER? Storms can batter East Coast with snow, impact millions of people
Contributing: The Associated Press; The Cape Cod Times