Snow has begun in New York City, and final preparations are underway up the coast into southeast New England as a likely historic winter storm closes in. The latest model simulations continue to bury Boston under a debilitating dump of wind-driven snow.
Over two feet of snow is a strong possibility in the Boston area, with 30 inches or more not out of the question. The storm has potential to be the city’s most prolific snow-producer on record, surpassing the 27.5 inches recorded during the February 17-18, 2003 storm.
Related: The science behind the blizzard
The National Weather Service office serving Boston has totally bought into the mind-boggling amounts of snow spit out by computer models, headlining its Blizzard Warning:
A POTENTIAL HISTORIC WINTER STORM AND BLIZZARD IS EXPECTED TO DROP UP TO 3 FEET OF SNOW THROUGH SATURDAY..
Not only in Boston, but in much of southern New England (the entire states of Rhode Island and Connecticut are under blizzard warnings), snowfall rates may reach 2 to 3 inches an hour, and thundersnow is possible. The weight of the snow could cause roofs to collapse. In addition, sustained winds of 30-40 mph with gusts to 70 mph are forecast. Snow may not wind down in New England until late Saturday afternoon or Saturday evening with blowing and drifting snow continuing even after the storm passes.
The NWS is warning travel will be dangerous, with paralyzing snow amounts and whiteout conditions. It also cautions the winds may damage trees and structures, and cause power outages.
Philadelphia to New York City
Snow amounts likely decrease somewhat south of Connecticut, but still are likely to be enough to cripple the greater New York City region where a blizzard warning is in effect through 1 p.m. Saturday. Forecasts are generally for 10 to 14 inches in the Big Apple, with conditions rapidly deteriorating late this afternoon and especially tonight.
Philadelphia is on the south side of possible substantial snows and is expecting rain for the better part of today. As colder air wraps into the region tonight, rain is expected to change to snow late with up to 3 to 5 inches forecast. A winter weather advisory is in effect for the city, with winter storm warnings in its northern suburbs for 4 to 8 inches or more.
The rapidly intensifying storm will cause seas to rise in many of the same areas slammed by Superstorm Sandy in late October. Storm warnings are in effect from southern Delaware through coastal New England for battering waves and punishing winds (gusting over 50 mph in Delaware and New Jersey and perhaps over 70 mph in southern New England).
The NWS service office serving the Delaware and Jersey shores cautions moderate to major beach erosion is expected Friday evening into Saturday morning during high tide.
Further north, meteorologist Jeff Masters notes “serious” coastal flooding is expected in Massachusetts with a 2-4 foot storm surge predicted. This will be enough to cause minor to major coastal flooding Masters says. Around New York City, only minor coastal flooding is expected, but severe beach erosion may occur along the north and northeast facing shores of Long Island, Masters adds.
Here’s a video report on the storm from the Associated Press