The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Coastal storm slamming Northeast as some areas surpass 30 inches of snow

The heavy wet snow on trees and power lines has contributed to about 250,000 customers without power

Model forecast shows a powerful storm center in the Gulf of Maine on Tuesday evening. (
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An intensifying nor’easter, unleashing heavy snow, rain and strong winds, is clobbering the Northeast and the storm won’t relent until Wednesday.

The weight of the snow on trees and power lines combined with gusts over 40 mph has cut power to more than 250,000 customers. The highest number of outages were in eastern New York and western Massachusetts, according to the utility tracker

Outages may increase Tuesday evening as snow totals mount and winds escalate.

Precipitation arrived late Monday and has been falling as snow — heavy at times — across interior regions of the Northeast and New England.

The snow has been piling up, especially across higher elevations, with accumulations already around 30 inches in the hardest hit areas, and some spots likely to soar as high as three feet by the time the storm ends.

Heavy rain and snow began falling across interior regions of the Northeast and New England on March 13 and is not expected to slow down for several days. (Video: The Washington Post)

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Numerous businesses and schools closed Tuesday because of difficult to impossible travel conditions. Hundreds of flights have been canceled or delayed across the Northeast.

Travel was also disrupted on many thoroughfares because of snowfall and downed trees. Interstate 90 in western Massachusetts was under a 40 mph speed restriction, with about 1,700 pieces of equipment deployed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Closer to the coast, including around New York City, it has mainly been a tale of rain and strong winds thus far. Boston has also seen a driving rain, but it was changing to snow Tuesday afternoon with accumulation set to occur at night. New York City could also flip to snow before the precipitation ends early Wednesday but with little or no accumulation expected.

The powerful low-pressure center of the storm was slowing down Tuesday afternoon as it churned to northeast of Cape Cod. Its central pressure — as low as 984 millibars thus far — dropped by about 20 millibars over the past 24 hours, signaling rapid strengthening.

Storm developments through Tuesday afternoon

Snow was falling Tuesday afternoon from the Canadian border southward through much of New England and eastern New York state. Over southeastern New England, precipitation that fell as rain was increasingly changing to snow.

Numerous reports of 24 to 30 inches of snow have come in from the highest elevations of the Berkshires, the eastern Catskills, as well as southern Vermont and the Worcester Hills. Widespread snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour piled up the totals over a short period overnight with heavy snow continuing at times today.

A foot to 18 inches was common in hilly locations of New England and New York through mid-afternoon. One to two feet had fallen north of Worcester to the northwest of Boston, and roughly 10 to 20 inches had accumulated around Albany.

Here are the highest reported snowfall totals, by state:

  • Marlboro, Vt. — 32.4 inches
  • Rowe, Mass. — 32 inches
  • Indian Lake, N.Y. — 31 inches
  • Greenville, N.H. — 24 inches
  • Granby, Conn. — 14 inches
  • Starrucca, Pa. — 9.5 inches
  • Vernon, N.J. — 9 inches

More snow to come

Snowfall rates of a half-inch to an inch per hour will remain common through Tuesday evening, near the New York’s border with Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, as well as most spots to the east. Coastal Maine may see 1 to 2 inch per hour snowfall rates into early evening. Bands of heavy snow may also similarly develop and affect parts the urban corridor around Boston.

A wide swath from just north of Boston through Down East Maine can expect additional snowfall of around six inches, with some spots receiving another foot. An inch or two may fall in lower elevation locations of Connecticut and New York northwest of New York City, with an additional 3 to 6 inches possible in the hills.

While snow had difficulty accumulating in many low elevation locations of the Northeast and New England Tuesday because of the high March sun angle, flakes will more readily acumulate after sunset as icy spots could also develop.

A mess for I-95 corridor and coastal areas

The big cities along Interstate 95 had yet to see snow accumulation through Tuesday afternoon. In New York City, raindrops are expected to turn to snow before the storm ends, potentially leading to light accumulations mainly on grass. It’s a similar story for Long Island and coastal Connecticut to the inner Cape.

Farther north into Boston, heavy rain has also been the story. With temperatures hovering around 40, the city has picked up more than 2 inches of rain through Tuesday afternoon. Rain will change to snow through evening, with about 4 to 6 inches forecast to accumulate in the metro area by Wednesday morning.

A high-wind warning remains in effect for the eastern shores of Massachusetts, including Boston, Cape Cod and the islands. Pounding surf and some minor coastal flooding is focused on the same area.

Also near and along those same shorelines, northwest winds sustained around 30 mph and gusting to 50 or 60 mph are likely as the storm reaches peak intensity Tuesday night, potentially leading to power outages. Gusts upward of 50 mph are also possible in the snowier spots of New York and Massachusetts, which may exacerbate outage issues there.

South of New York City and outside the mountains, signs of the storm are limited to cold and wind. While a few snow showers have dotted the landscape as far south as Maryland, the main story will be gusts as high as around 50 mph in the Washington and Baltimore areas, where a wind advisory was in effect into Tuesday night.

From where it sits in the Gulf of Maine late Tuesday, the low-pressure center should stall or loop near or just offshore eastern New England. It will then slowly pull away Wednesday, with gusty winds persisting in its wake.

Warmer temperatures late this week and a chance of rain this weekend promise to melt much of the remaining snow quickly.