Nor’easter hammering East Coast with blizzard conditions, with New England bracing for the heaviest snow

More than 10 million people in some coastal areas from Virginia into New England are under blizzard warnings — meaning heavy snow and strong winds, with predicted gusts up to 70 mph in some areas, will make for terrible visibility and dangerous travel.

Some governments in the Northeast have banned vehicle travel for parts of the day, including Rhode Island through to 8 pm, with a tractor-trailer ban until midnight. And many are urging people to stay home.

“Hunker down for 24 hours, and sometime tomorrow, you’ll be able to go back out and resume some of your normal activities,” Tom Guthlein, Rhode Island’s acting director emergency management, said early Saturday.

More than 1 foot of snow could fall by Sunday morning from Long Island through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, CNN forecasters said.

And Boston, eastern Massachusetts and parts of Maine could get more than 2 feet of snow. That could threaten Boston’s one-day snowfall record — 23.6 inches — set on February 17, 2003. Snow could fall at rates of 2 to 4 inches per hour in some locations.

Some areas also are under warnings of coastal flooding, and facing possibility of power outages from downed utility lines.

The blizzard warnings in coastal areas from Virginia to New England excluded Philadelphia and New York City — but snow still is hitting those cities, with nearly a foot possible in each.

Notable locations within the warning are Ocean City, Maryland; Atlantic City, New Jersey; the eastern half of New York’s Long Island; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Boston; and Portland, Maine.

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

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 National Weather Service 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.

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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 am and 5 pm Saturday. Similar snow total and wind predictions are in place for Rhode Island.

Boston declared a “snow emergency” that began Friday at 9 pm

“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 took effect Saturday morning and will go though 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 morning and going through 8 pm due to whiteout conditions.

Some of the heaviest snow is projected to fall in parts of New Hampshire, Maine, and Long Island — 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 man walks on a snow-covered street in Boston on Saturday morning.

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 .

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The impact in New York City will peak from 5 am to 4 pm Saturday.

As a precaution, all Long Island Rail Road service was suspended 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, the Carolinas and elsewhere

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.

Parts of interior North Carolina and South Carolina got more than 2 inches of snow, with higher amounts in North Carolina’s mountains.

Portions of Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia also have received more than 4 inches of snow.

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


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