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Northeast Coast Blizzard

A potentially historic winter storm was closing in on New England on Friday with tens of millions of people in its sights. The storm has canceled thousands of flights and could bring 2 feet of snow to cities like Boston.

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For millions in the Northeast, the storm is over — but being snowed in isn’t.

The mammoth blizzard that broke records in some areas left its heavy footprint in place Sunday. Temperatures topping out only in the low to mid-30s were too low to melt the piles of snow.

President Barack Obama announced a state of emergency in Connecticut, which got some of the heaviest snowfall. The city of Hamden had a whopping 40 inches.

“Tomorrow the melting will begin as temperatures climb into the 40s,” said CNN Meteorologist Alexandra Steele. “But it will come with some issues.”

east-coast-snowstormExpect a messy commute Monday morning in hard-hit Boston with a mix of rain and snow, she said.

Boston residents digging their cars out were having trouble finding a place to throw the snow. One shoveler said she was considering taking the train to work instead of trying to drive Monday morning.

“There’s a ton of snow and there’s nowhere to put it,” Lena Berc said. “So it’s really frustrating trying to find nooks and crannies.”

But on Sunday, some normalcy returned to the roads and skies. At Logan International Airport in Boston, a few dozen flights had landed by midmorning, and a spokesman for the airport said airlines were telling him that they would be back on schedule by the end of the day.

The flight-tracking website Flight Aware listed more than 400 U.S. flights canceled Sunday.

Amtrak announced a limited schedule of train service between Boston and New York, while other routes in the Northeast were still canceled and some were operating on a normal schedule.

As of 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday, about 270,000 power customers were still in the dark, an improvement from the 635,000 without electricity Saturday afternoon.

At least nine deaths in three states and Canada are blamed on the snowstorm, which was spawned by two converging weather systems.

Residents from Pennsylvania to Maine are trying to dig out from as much as 3 feet of snowfall.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Sunday he was pleased with the work done in preparation and response to the storm. He told those without power — more than 38,000 customers — that help was coming.

“We’re working as hard as we can. We’re seeing progress every hour,” he told reporters in Cranston, Rhode Island.

He added that cleanup had been made easier because many residents had complied with a 24-hour driving ban, allowing crews easier access to trouble spots.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said his city was making side streets its priority Sunday, as crews borrowed additional snow-clearing equipment from other cities. He urged drivers to stay home one more day and said schools there would be closed Monday.

Deadly consequences

At least nine people were killed in accidents related to the storm, including five in Connecticut, two in Ontario, Canada, one in New York and one in Massachusetts — a 14-year-old Boston boy who was helping his father shovel snow.

The boy hopped in the snowed-in family car to warm up, but the engine was running and the exhaust pipe was blocked by snow, causing carbon monoxide to accumulate in the car. Firefighters were unable to resuscitate the boy.

Boston police were investigating another death possibly caused by carbon monoxide, when a man in his early 20s was found dead a vehicle.

The department warned about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from trying to stay warm in a car with exhaust pipes blocked by snow.

In Poughkeepsie, New York, an 18-year-old woman lost control of her car in the falling snow and struck a 74-year-old man walking near the side of the road, police said. He later died from his injuries.

The situation could have turned out worse for some drivers in Long Island, who had to be rescued from cars that were stuck and virtually frozen in place.

Epic mounds of snow

On Interstate 95 in Connecticut, traffic cameras showed most lanes were open underneath a bright afternoon sun, but traffic was extremely light. One single car accident had stymied travelers in the northbound lanes near mile marker 56.

In New York, the Long Island Expressway was closed through 9 p.m. ET in Suffolk County, New York, a Suffolk County Police spokesman said. Kerry Pecorino said the highway was shut down between mile markers 57 and 73.

In Boston, students at the Wentworth Institute of Technology took a series of photographs covering the 26-hour storm.

iReporter Filipe Pereira said Wentworth students, who were expecting to go to class on Monday, had enjoyed the weekend storm, engaging in massive snowball fights and building snowmen everywhere. People were even skiing down one street, he said.

The streets around the small school were still a mess but they were no longer closed.

“People have been going all over the roads with no problem,” he said.

At its height, the storm heaped snow on Connecticut at a dizzying rate of 4 to 5 inches an hour.

A city official said it snowed so hard that even the snow plows were stuck.

The city has 240 miles of road, Curt Leng said, but only one sixth of the roads were clear. Many others had only one lane open.

“Due to the amount of snow that came down, it seems not even the plows came out,” photographer Mia Orsatti told CNN’s iReport from Hamden. “The street was a white, wide, soft blanket of snow.”

Scott Green posted a photo of his deck in Cromwell — covered waist-high with snow.

Snowfall in Manhattan reached just under a foot, but heavier accumulations piled up in Long Island, where 27 inches fell in Stony Brook.

“Suffolk County has not seen a winter storm like (this) in years, and the massive amount of snow left behind effectively shut down the entire region,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “From the moment that it became clear that Suffolk County would bear the worst of the storm’s impact on New York, the state dispensed an unprecedented level of resources, equipment, and manpower to support local relief efforts.”

And some flooding, too

Coastal areas of Massachusetts and Maine were hit by storm surge and flooding.

Some homes and cars were flooded and several areas reported up to 2 feet of water in areas on the sounds or Atlantic Ocean.

In Nantucket, Massachusetts, water reached several blocks inland. In the town of Hull, people on several streets were asked to leave their homes, and in Sandwich several homes were flooded and the access stairs to the beach were swept away.

The Midwest is next

While the blizzard that pummeled Northeastern states has wandered out over the Atlantic Ocean, trouble now brews for northern Midwest states.

A major winter storm will bring heavy snow and strong winds from northeast Colorado to central Minnesota from Sunday into Monday, the National Weather Service said. Eastern South Dakota could see more than a foot of snow and 50 mph winds, “creating whiteout conditions,” the weather agency said.
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New York (CNN) — A massive blizzard that dumped as much as 3 feet of snow in parts of the Northeast is heading out to sea, as workers across New York and New England struggle to get airports, trains and highways back online.

The snowstorm, a product of two converging weather systems, knocked out power for more than 635,000 customers and prompted the U.S. Postal Service to suspend deliveries in seven states. Power restored in some areas by Saturday afternoon, leaving some 593,000 customers still without electricity as nightfall approached.

“We had a bad storm here with heavy, heavy snow — starting with a wet snow early, which stuck to the trees, which brought them down on the power lines, and then the temperatures dropping and then high, high winds all combining to a lot of power outages. We have our challenges here,” Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee told CNN.

About 4,800 airline flights were canceled.

At least four people died in traffic accidents related to the storm in New York, Connecticut and southern Ontario, authorities said. A 49-year-old man died while shoveling out his car in Connecticut. Firefighters were unable to resuscitate a 12-year-old boy in Boston after the youth suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.

Track the storm

All coastal flood warnings for New England were canceled. Mandatory evacuations were issued earlier Saturday for Massachusetts coastal regions near the town of Hull because of flooding concerns, and high winds whipped throughout the region. Authorities advised residents to leave shoreline areas in Marshfield and Scituate.

Forecasters say the storm is still swirling across eastern New England with gusts up to 40 mph in cities that include Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston. But as most of the heavy snow tapered off, a travel ban across Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts was lifted at 4 p.m.

While the blizzard did not fulfill record-breaking predictions, travel throughout the region remained slow-going.

Hundreds of cars were stranded on the Long Island Expressway in New York after motorists got stuck driving in the snow. They outnumbered the tow trucks and crews deployed to the area for the storm, according to the Suffolk County police.

Map, timeline of the storm

Postal worker Karlene Calliste left her job around 3 p.m. Friday, got caught in the storm and ended up sleeping at a firehouse in Middle Island, New York, where dozens of other stranded residents were holed up.

“It’s crazy. They weren’t prepared,” she said, adding that a lack of snow plows contributed to the scores of cars and trucks left stuck in the snow.

Three of New York’s busiest airports resumed limited service Saturday morning. Logan International Airport in Boston and Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, remained closed.

Snow piles up; power goes out

Connecticut saw the most accumulation, with up to 38 inches in Milford. At its height, the storm heaped snow on the state at a frenzied rate of 4 to 5 inches an hour.

iReporter Scott Green posted a photo of his deck in Cromwell — covered waist-high with snow.

In Massachusetts, Worcester and Boston received 27 and 21 inches, respectively, with winds howling up to a hurricane-strength 75 mph.

Snowfall in Manhattan reached just under a foot, with heavier accumulations in Long Island, where 27 inches fell in Stony Brook.

“This state had consequences, but nothing like our neighboring states,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He announced Saturday plans to send utility workers and snow plows to New England to help with recovery in harder hit areas.

Snowfall blanketed an area from eastern Pennsylvania to Maine, with overnight lows under 20 degrees as governors in six states declared states of emergency.

The storm knocked out power to more than 400,000 addresses in Massachusetts, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all power outages in the storm, according to Massachusetts power companies. By Saturday afternoon, close to 377,000 customers in the state were without power.

Stay safe with the power out

Electricity dropped out at a nuclear power plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, said fire spokesman Ed Bradley, but backup generators sprang into action.

Stay connected in the storm

Plymouth is 90% in the dark, and most of the power outages in Massachusetts have hit the southeast part of the state.

Stay charged when the power goes out

Rhode Island may have seen the worst outages relative to its size, with more than 167,000 customers without power Saturday afternoon. At 1 million residents, it has only one-sixth the population of Massachusetts, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Roads turn deadly

In Poughkeepsie, New York, an 18-year-old woman lost control of her car in the falling snow and struck a 74-year-old man walking near the side of the road, police said. He later died from his injuries.

Similar accidents occurred in Prospect, Connecticut and southern Ontario.

Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island ahead of the storm ordered all non-emergency vehicles off the streets under threat of imprisonment and fines — up to a year in jail and $500 in Rhode Island.

Rail transportation came to a virtual halt, with commuter trains running on a patchwork schedule.

Hoops snowed out

The nor’easter has swatted down travel arrangements for pro basketball teams headed to New York City, leaving the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs and Brooklyn Nets grounded.

The Knicks are stuck in Minneapolis, where they played the Timberwolves on Friday, a spokesman said. They have a home game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday against the L.A. Clippers.

Canceled flights forced the Nets to attempt to get home by train from Washington after a game there against the Wizards.

The San Antonio Spurs, who were originally flying to New York to play the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night, are stuck in Detroit.

CNN’s AnneClaire Stapleton, Pauline Kim, Jake Carpenter, Greg Botelho, Chris Boyette and Marina Carver contributed to this report. David Ariosto is in New York and Ben Brumfield is in Atlanta.

 

New York (CNN) — A monster blizzard left tens of thousands of people in the dark — and in the cold — Friday night, all thanks to a storm that’s already delivered whipping winds and over a foot of snow in some parts, with prospects of even double that by the time it’s done.

The storm — actually the convergence of two powerful systems — began in earnest Friday morning in parts of New York state and is expected to continue well into Saturday in Rhode Island, eastern Massachusetts and Maine.

“The wind is just pounding,” CNN iReporter Jordana Fleischut said from Nantucket, off Massachusetts’ southern coast. “It’s currently moving the Jeep that we’re in — that’s how powerful it is.”

Tens of millions of people were in the blizzard’s path, and many more saw their hopes of getting anywhere squashed as thousands of flight were canceled affecting some 60 airports or government officials’ orders that drivers stay off the road. Amtrak also nixed several of its scheduled runs, citing the weather.

That helped transform several communities around New England into ghost towns, as streets that typically would be choked with traffic were quiet, except for whistling winds; and empty, except for a blanket of thick, sticky snow. Several iReporters sent in photos and video from Boston, for instance, that showed sheets of white on the ground — except when whipping winds made for near whiteout conditions on camera — and little movement on the streets.

“Boston is kind of eerie at the moment,” said Chris Moran, a veteran snowplow driver doing his best to keep the roads clear. “People are off the streets, and it looks like it could be 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Heavy bands dumped, at times, up to 3 inches of snow an hour in parts of the Northeast, a deluge that had dumped more than a foot of snow already by 8:30 p.m. in several Connecticut and Rhode Island communities. And that could just be the start: Forecasters have said as much as 30 inches could fall in parts of Massachusetts by the time the storm finally passes.

Strong winds made this storm especially biting. By Friday evening, the National Weather Service reported wind gusts around 60 mph from Nantucket to Boston’s Castle Island — not to mention a 71-mph gust in Buzzards Bay on Cape Cod.

Such strong winds could whip up mighty storm surges on Friday night and, again, Saturday morning. The emergency management agency in Marshfield, a seaside Massachusetts town, noted there may be a storm surge of between two to three feet, forecasting a “serious event with moderate to major impact” around 10 a.m. Saturday.

For many more people, the storm’s impact will be in the form of widespread power outages. By 8:45 p.m. Friday, more than 130,000 customers — most in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut — were without electricity, a number that was expected to grow as the night wore on.

For some, it all evoked memories of the “Blizzard of ’78″ and the “Presidents Day Storm of 2003″ — two of dozens of winter storms in Massachusetts that Moran has been out on the streets.

The Framingham resident bundled up to brave the bitter cold and clear snow off the roads. But with a storm this powerful, it sometimes seems like a losing battle.

“I just finished plowing a 40-car parking lot,” said Moran. “But if you were to look at it now, you never would have guessed. It’s completely covered.”

Alarms raised, events canceled ahead of the storm

Authorities have been sounding the alarm about the coming storm for days, urging people to stock up and stay off the roads. The worries were especially pronounced in places slammed by Sandy.

That late October storm tore through Nick Camerada’s Staten Island home, leaving him personally “destroyed” and cognizant that there may be more hits coming.

“You can’t mess with Mother Nature,” an emotional Camerada said.

Lines of customers snaked around storefronts as many braced for the worst.

When Reading, Massachusetts, resident Elizabeth Frazier arrived at a grocery store late Thursday night, shoppers were already buying up the store.

“It’s a zoo in there,” she said. “There’s nothing left on the shelves,” she told CNN affiliate WHDH.

Governors across New England and New York have declared states of emergency, and all cars and trucks — except emergency vehicles — must now be off Massachusetts and Connecticut roadways. A similar ban in Rhode Island took effect at 5 p.m.

Violating that ban could incur a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.

By Friday night, the storm had already led to hundreds of cancellations of public school classes to sporting events. The storm even prompted the cancellation of ACT tests, for would-be college students, around the Northeast.

Train traffic also ground to a halt in places, in addition to air and road travel. Amtrak canceled many trips in the Northeast corridor. Some 6,000 Massachusetts National Guard members were put on storm duty as residents across the region stocked up on essential supplies.

Utility companies tried to get a head start on the storm, by having additional crews ready to respond to outages caused by downed power lines.

The fear is that, as happened after Sandy, such outages could persist for days. Still, for all the alarms being raised, the mayor of Boston — which forecasters expected would be the city hardest hit by the storm — said he expected residents of his community and others to hunker down and weather the storm.

Said Mayor Thomas Menino, “We are hardy New Englanders.”

CNN’s David Ariosto, Greg Botelho, Mary Snow, Steve Almasy, Larry Shaughnessy and Marina Carver contributed to this report.

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A potentially historic winter storm was closing in on New England on Friday with tens of millions of people in its sights.

The storm has canceled thousands of flights and could bring 2 feet of snow to cities like Boston.

More than 250 flights have been canceled at O’Hare International Airport as a storm that dumped nearly a foot of snow here heads to the Northeast, where it is merging with another system and spawning blizzard warnings from Boston to New York.

About 110 arriving flights and 150 departing flights at O’Hare have been canceled this morning, according to FlightStats, which gathers data from airlines and airports. About 180 flights were delayed.

Officials said most of the affected flights were to and from the East Coast. About 2,500 flights have already been canceled in Boston, New York City and Newark, N.J.

Blizzard warnings were in effect from New Jersey through southern Maine, with Boston expected to bear the heaviest blow from the massive storm. The day was expected to begin with light snow, with winds picking up and snow getting much heavier by afternoon.

The National Weather Service said Boston could get 18 to 24 inches or more of snow on Friday and Saturday, its first heavy snowfall in two years. Winds could gust as high as 60 to 75 mph as the day progresses. Computer models indicate the storm could surpass Boston’s 2003 record of 27.6 inches of snow.

Amtrak said it was reducing service on its Acela Express and northeast regional routes between New York and Boston.

The storm that hit the Chicago area Thursday, dumping anywhere from 10 inches in Beach Park to 1.4 inches at O’Hare, is combining with a second system from the Southeast, according to the Chicago Weather Center. As the two systems merge, explosive intensification will begin.

In short, the system will “bomb-out.”

In the Chicago area, the storm left 10 inches in Beach Park, 9.5 inches in Zion, 9 inches in Kenosha, 7.8 inches in Vernon Hills, 7 inches in Wadsworth and Gurnee, 6.5 inches in Bull Valley and Winthrop Harbor, 6 inches in Grayslake, 5.5 inches in Lake Bluff, 5.3 inches in Lake Zurich, 5.1 inches in Mundelein, 4.9 inches in DeKalb and 4.6 inches at Northbrook.

Illinois State Police reported no major problems on Chicago area expressway this morning and the city has moved its fleet of plows onto residential streets.

Temperatures today will hover in the 32-degree range, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Bardou said.

“The normal high is 33 at O’Hare,” Bardou said. “We will be pretty close to that, a little above that tomorrow and well above Sunday.”

The weekend should be dry until Sunday morning, when the city could see some frozen rain around sunrise.

“Then the warmer air gets here and we will have liquid rain onward through the rest of the day and maybe even a rumble of thunder if you’re in the southern part of the metro on Sunday,” Bardou said.

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A potentially historic winter storm was closing in on New England on Friday with tens of millions of people in its sights. The storm has canceled thousands of flights and could bring 2 feet of snow to cities like Boston.

The icy rage will commence Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service predicts, and will last into Saturday.

Snow could lock some residents indoors over the weekend.

In addition, it will produce high winds and stir up trouble at sea, pushing ocean waves onto land and flooding New England coastlines.

“It’s going to be one of the strongest winter storms we’ve seen in a very long time,” CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said.

But by early next week, much of the Northeast will probably re-emerge from underneath the white blanket, Javaheri said, as temperatures in many places are expected to go above 40 degrees.

The gathering snowstorm is driving droves of New Englanders into shops to gather supplies, then dash home to stock their cupboards, batten down the hatches and brace for possible record-breaking snow.

When Reading, Massachusetts, resident Elizabeth Frazier stocked up on supplies late Thursday, shoppers were buying up the store. She grabbed the last bottles of water in sight.

“It’s a zoo in there,” she said. “There’s nothing left on the shelves,” she told CNN affiliate WHDH.

Motorists lined up to fill their tanks at gas stations in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Who is in its path

The storm is on a trajectory reminiscent of the path that Superstorm Sandy took but will also include areas farther north.

It is poised to deliver harsh blows to regions that already took a lot of punishment in the fall.

The blizzard is predicted to smother some places where the superstorm left behind the deepest scars — from the New Jersey shoreline through the boroughs of New York City and throughout Connecticut.

Forecasts call for the worst snowfall to extend into eastern Massachusetts and reach up the Northeast shoreline into Maine.

The area is very densely populated.

Power companies and public works are shoring up their resources, and some states have closed public schools.

The National Weather Service has predicted widespread white-out conditions that will impede drivers’ visibility.

Airlines have already canceled more than 3,200 flights to and from the affected region, and Amtrak has canceled many trips in the Northeast corridor. Some states are warning motorists not to drive once the storm hits.

Passengers filed into New York’s La Guardia Airport on Friday before dawn to flee the coming mayhem. Many rescheduled their flights to leave before its arrival.

James Rubino was originally booked on a flight to Miami on Friday evening to see family, but the airline canceled the trip. After hours of calling the airline, he was able to get on a much earlier flight.

“I got up at 3:02 a.m. and just ran, got my son, and we were out the door,” Rubino said. He plunked down $200 for a cab to the airport to make the new flight on time.

The Great Blizzard of 1978 in Boston

Boston’s public works filled trucks with sand Thursday to spread on roads, and deployed snowplows and 600 snow removers.

“We are hardy New Englanders,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, “and used to these types of storms.”

But the city could see flakes falling at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour, and the storm has already drawn comparisons to the Great Blizzard of 1978, when thousands were stranded as fast-moving snowdrifts blanketed highways and left several people dead.

Putting toughness aside, Menino told Bostonians to “use common sense” and “stay off the streets of our city.” “Basically, stay home.”

“All vehicles must be off the roads by noon on Friday,” Massachusetts’ emergency management agency said. “Boston’s public rail system will halt service at 3:30 p.m.”

This storm is predicted to dump about 29 inches on Boston in one day. The Great Blizzard dumped 27 inches on its worst day, Javaheri said, but it hovered over the area longer than this storm is expected to.

In addition, “the winds are going to be howling,” he said. The snow won’t fall down but blow in sideways, causing particularly high drifts.

The most severe weather is expected to hit Massachusetts between 2 and 5 p.m. Friday.

Snow flurries had already begun over Massachusetts and New Hampshire on Thursday.

Snow will be widespread and deep

The rest of New England will see heavy snow into Saturday, the National Weather Service said, which could reach blizzard intensity in places. A wet system rising from the Gulf Coast is colliding with a polar front rolling in from the Midwest to produce the whopping winter storm.

Residents from New Jersey to Maine probably will be digging themselves out of a foot or so of snow, the National Weather Service predicts, with more than 2½ feet falling in some spots.

Snowfalls could last as long as 36 hours in some areas, breaking local accumulation records. The weather service expects the storm to fling heavy snow across the Great Lakes as far away as Michigan and Wisconsin.

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the timing of the storm could be worse for municipal workers.

“If it’s going to happen, having it happen Friday overnight into Saturday is probably as good timing as we could have,” he said. “The sanitation department then has the advantage of being able to clean the streets when there’s normally less traffic.”

Wind-whipped shores

In shades of Sandy, gales will whip up waves along the Atlantic Coast, triggering small-craft advisories as far south as Georgia, the National Weather Service said. Hurricane-force winds are predicted to churn up offshore maritime tempests — particularly from New Jersey to Massachusetts — with waves cresting at up to 30 feet at the height of the storm.

Coastal flooding is possible “from Boston northward,” the weather service said. But on Long Island, power companies are also warning that the Atlantic’s waters could come ashore there, too.

The combination of snow and gusts as high as 60 to 75 mph will also knock out electric power, the National Weather Service said.

After Superstorm Sandy left much of Long Island without power for days, power company National Grid is working to prevent a second act to that tragedy.

It is adding hundreds of extra crew members to more than 500 linemen already on site for the Long Island Power Authority.

The storm could cut power to more than 100,000 customers on Long Island alone, National Grid said.

CNN’s David Ariosto, Steve Almasy, Larry Shaughnessy and Marina Carver contributed to this report.

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Stores across the Northeast were packed with shoppers as people prepared for what could be a historic blizzard set to arrive on Friday.

In Reading, Massachusetts, residents were preparing for several feet of snow that could leave them stuck in their homes for days.

“It’s a zoo in there. There’s nothing left on the shelves. … I think I got every bottle of water that they had in stock,” Elizabeth Fraiser told CNN afilliate WHDH.

At the Home Depot, another resident said she had essential supplies but wanted to be doubly sure she was ready.

“I have a lot of it, but just want to be prepared. You never know,” Joanna Spinosa said.

A picture posted on the website of CNN affiliate WCVB showed long lines at a gas station in Boston.

Two ferocious storm systems are expected to converge across the Northeast on Friday and spawn travel nightmares for a large swath of the country.

A wintry blast churning across the nation and a cold front barreling up the East Coast will unite and could dump as much as a foot of snow in New York and up to 3 feet in Boston.

Nearly 3,000 flights were canceled in anticipation of the storm as emergency crews geared up for inclement weather, most of which was expected late Friday into Saturday.

Amtrak canceled many trips in the Northeast corridor. The rail transit company said on its website that northbound service from New York’s Penn Station would be suspended after 1 p.m Friday.

Boston could see snowfall of 2 to 3 inches per hour, as frigid gusts swirl across the region. The system has already drawn comparisons to the “Great Blizzard” of 1978, when thousands were stranded as fast-moving snow drifts blanketed highways and left several people dead.

The most severe weather is expected to hit Massachusetts between 2 and 5 p.m. on Friday.

Gov. Deval Patrick announced Thursday that all non-emergency workers should work from home. He canceled all school classes on Friday.

“Be a good neighbor. Check on the elderly,” he said, advising residents not to bring portable stoves, charcoal or gas grill indoors out of concern for potential fire hazards or carbon monoxide poisoning.

All vehicles must be off the roads by noon on Friday, and Boston’s public rail system will halt service at 3:30 p.m. A fleet of 600 snow removers will be manned by municipal workers and contractors as authorities gear up for what they say could be a 36-hour storm.

“We are hearty New Englanders and used to these kinds of storms, but I also want to remind people to use common sense and stay off the streets,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

Forecasters warned of potential white-out conditions across New England and parts of New York.

“If you are on the highway and you are stuck, you are putting yourself in danger,” said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Meanwhile, residents stocked up after authorities announced that public schools across several New England states would not hold classes Friday.

“They’re coming in buying shovels, ice melts and sleds,” said Atton Shipman, who works at Back Bay Hardware in Boston.

Social media was abuzz with chatter about the incoming weather.

“Just a reminder of what the ground looks like in case anyone forgets in a couple of days,” tweeted Ryan Pickering, after posting a close-up photo of a Rhode Island roadway.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency officials said that they were busy salting roadways.

“Travel may become nearly impossible with blowing/drifting snow and near zero visibility during the height of the storm (Friday afternoon into Saturday morning),” the agency said in a statement. “Motorized vehicles are asked to stay off the roads if they can during the storm to allow snow plows to clear the roads.”

Crews began preparing snow plows at Logan International Airport, where officials said the storm is expected to cause more flight delays and cancellations.

United Airlines said customers in storm-affected cities will be allowed to reschedule their itineraries “with a one-time date or time change, and the airline will waive the change fees.”

Delta, Jet Blue, Southwest and other airlines offered their customers similar assurances.

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy said utility companies were bringing additional crews from out of state to deal with potential power outages. Metro-North rail lines could also be closed at any time should winds exceed 40 mph.

The Connecticut National Guard has moved equipment to staging places, including several Black Hawk helicopters at Bradley International Airport north of Hartford. In Rhode Island, 300 members of a military police brigade were scheduled to drill on Saturday and Sunday but the drill has been moved up because of the storm.

A snow emergency went into effect in the southern Connecticut city of Stamford, beginning at 5 p.m.

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the timing of the storm could actually benefit municipal workers.

“If it’s going to happen, having it happen Friday overnight into Saturday is probably as good timing as we could have,” Bloomberg said. “The sanitation department then has the advantage of being able to clean the streets when there’s normally less traffic.”

New York’s Air National Guard unit on Long Island has some snowmobiles it can deploy to help with search and rescue or emergency transportation. If Gov. Andrew Cuomo were to order the National Guard to assist, each of New York’s Guard’s six operating areas will be ready to deploy 10 Humvees and 40 troops trained in disaster response.

By late Thursday, the National Weather Service had issued a blizzard warning from 6 a.m. Friday until 1 p.m. Saturday, with wind gusts up to 50 mph, creating dangerous driving conditions with visibilities near zero in white-out conditions.

Consolidated Edison, a main utility company for the New York region, said it is preparing additional crews to deal with potential power outages and advised customers to stay clear of downed power lines.

Long island Power Authority, which received intense criticism over its handling of Superstorm Sandy, said it was preparing.

Record-breaking snowfall could hit Hartford, Connecticut, as well.

“We expect snow and then rain, and severe coastal flooding,” said CNN meteorologist Sarah Dillingham.

Wind will also be a major concern. Gusts could reach 75 mph along Cape Cod and 55 mph in the Long Island Sound and cause coastal flooding, with tides rising about three to five feet.

As more miserable weather slams the region, those affected by Superstorm Sandy will be further hampered by high winds, cold temperatures and more beach erosion.

Parts of the region are under a blizzard watch.

In New Hampshire, there are people who actually want a lot of snow.

“Natural snow definitely gets people to remind them that there are winter activities,” Lori Rowell, director of marketing for Pats Peak ski resort in Henniker, told CNN affiliate WBZ.

Steve Livingston said he usually sells 30 to 35 snowmobiles a week at his shop, but he hasn’t sold any in the past week.

Sales have been super slow,” said Livingston, owner of Livingston’s Arctic Cat in Hillsborough. “I hope we get as much snow as we can possibly deal with. That would be like a hot summer day for Hampton Beach for us.”
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