Blizzard blasts Northeast with snow, wind and bitter cold

By Lateef Mungin and Greg Botelho, CNN

Bitter cold. Below-zero. Blizzard conditions.

Sorry, Northeast. But those are phrases you’ll be using a lot Friday amid a monster storm.

northeastsnowfall1-3And not just the Northeast, forecasters said. About one-third of the nation — approximately 100 million people in 22 states — is in the path this storm.

But the Northeast will be hardest-hit, the National Weather Service said.

“Heaviest snow will fall from central New York to the Massachusetts coast. Blizzard conditions are possible for eastern Long Island and the Massachusetts coast. Bitter cold will move into the Midwest and East following the storm,” the Weather Service said.

Track the storm: Radar, temperatures

“Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely,” the Weather Service said. “This will lead to whiteout conditions making travel extremely dangerous. Do not travel.”

Across the country, the nasty weather has snarled travel plans for many.

FlightAware.com, which tracks cancellations due to weather and mechanical problems, said around 1,300 flights already have been canceled for Friday. That’s after more than 2,200 U.S. flights were canceled Thursday.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect where:

New York and Long Island

New York’s new Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing a big test Friday. After taking the helm this week, he has to deal with a major snowstorm.

He warned New Yorkers to stay warm.

“Stay indoors, don’t go out if you don’t have to go out,” de Blasio said Thursday.

New York City is expecting to see 6 to 12 inches of snow by Friday. Long Island will be under a blizzard warning until 1 p.m. Friday, with predictions of 8 to 10 inches of snow, wind chills as low as 10 below zero and sustained winds of at least 35 mph.

Bitter cold will follow, with temperatures in the single digits by Saturday morning.

New York City public schools were closed Friday because of the treacherous weather, school officials said.

Upstate, the capital city of Albany could get buried under 14 inches of snow, with wind chills of 15 to 25 below zero, the National Weather Service said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for all of New York on Thursday, one of several steps taken to try to minimize the wild wintry weather’s toll.

The New York Port Authority reported that flight operations at JFK International Airport were suspended Friday because of zero visibility and wind-blown snow on the runways. At 6:30 a.m. ET, the airport said 120 flights had been canceled. The airport terminals were open, the Port Authority said.

Massachusetts

By Friday night, Boston is expected to be covered by 10 to 18 inches of snow, about twice the amount forecast just one day ago, and shivering in temperatures as low as 6 degrees below zero.

Citing likely “near blizzard” conditions Friday morning, the state’s emergency management agency warned that some areas could be hit hard — including up to 2 feet of snow on parts of the North Shore and South Shore, as well as Cape Cod.

The forecast was so bad for Boston that the city canceled school for Friday two days in advance, with scores of other school districts quickly following suit.

“I guess Mother Nature wanted to give me one more gift,” Mayor Thomas Menino told reporters Thursday, one of his last days in the job he has held since 1993.

The combination of extreme cold, snow and strong winds had officials at homeless shelters preparing.

“Our main emphasis is getting people inside, where it is safer and warmer,” said Jennifer Harris, a spokeswoman for the Pine Street Inn shelter system in Boston, where a snow emergency has been declared. “Pine Street Inn is making sure to have extra staff and food and water. We are geared up to provide to a greater number of people.”

Blizzard warnings haven’t been issued for Boston itself, but are in effect for parts of nearby Essex and Plymouth counties — including the communities of Gloucester, Brockton and Plymouth — as well as the Cape.

Because of the storm, the state Emergency Management Agency warned that the Friday midday high tides could produce “significant flooding” along the coast. Because of this, the towns of Scituate and Duxbury requested voluntary evacuations for residents of certain low-lying areas.

Connecticut and Delaware

Wind chills in parts of Connecticut were expected to range from -5 to -20 degrees Friday, and the National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for most of the state through Friday morning.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged residents to take it slow and give themselves extra time for their commutes Friday. He said he expects delays, but not cancellations, in public transit.

Addressing reporters, Malloy said the worst time for the state would be overnight — between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., when there could be blizzard conditions. Still, the storm’s impact could linger well beyond that if roads are blocked or the electricity goes out.

Delaware said state offices were closed for business Friday. Only “essential employees are to report as scheduled,” the state’s website said.

Chicago and points beyond

Windy City residents will feel low temperatures — wind chills during the day Friday will creep down to minus 12. Chicago emergency director Gary Schenkel said more snow is possible later in the week.

Though snow in Chicago in the winter is a common event, it “can still wreak havoc on daily routines,” he noted.

Next week could be no better for some U.S. residents.

A new shot of colder air will start to move into the northern Midwest by Saturday and will dive south Monday and Tuesday, carrying zero-degree cold as far south as Nashville. “That’s the coldest air we’ve seen that far south in several years,” said Dave Hennen, a CNN meteorologist.

The cold air will kick off a new storm Sunday into Monday that could affect a number of high-profile NFL playoff games this weekend. In Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers will give a cold welcome to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, when temperatures could bottom out at -17.

AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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