TRENDING NEWS: Monday, Jan 26th, 2015
This Is NOT Your Typical Snowstorm
[NBC News - BY ERIN McCLAM]
Tens of millions of people in the Northeast hunkered down on Monday for a historic blizzard that was forecast to drop 2 feet of snow or more and bring Boston and New York to a standstill.
At least 6,000 flights were scrapped, and the major airlines warned that practically nothing would take off or land in New York, Boston and Philadelphia as the worst of the storm sweeps in overnight and Tuesday morning.
Store shelves emptied, schools shut their doors, and authorities either pleaded with people to stay home or outright closed the roads to all but emergency vehicles. In New York, cabs and delivery bicycles were ordered off the streets at 11 p.m. ET.
"This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "This is not a typical storm. It's going to pack a punch. What you're going to see in a few hours is something that hits very hard and very fast."
Boston suspended all public transit for Tuesday. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced limited subway service beginning Monday evening and said commuter trains would stop rolling on Monday night.
"It is a serious blizzard," he said. "It should not be taken lightly."
At least 60 million people were under a winter weather alert, and 28 million were in the possible path of blizzard conditions — heavy snow whipped around by ferocious wind. Five states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — declared emergencies.
Forecast snow totals were changing quickly, but The Weather Channel said some places outside Boston and on Long Island, New York, could get more than 2 feet of snow. The Massachusetts coast and eastern Long Island could each see 30 inches, The Weather Channel reported.
Bill Karins, a meteorologist for NBC News, called for snow totals of 20 inches in Hartford, Connecticut, 18 inches in New York and 10 inches in Philadelphia.
The worst of it — heavy snow with hurricane-force winds in some places — was expected Monday night and Tuesday morning. A blizzard warning covered 250 miles of the Northeast. Snow fell steadily for most of the day Monday across the Northeast, and authorities warned that it would get much heavier.
"Don't panic. Let's get this thing right," Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston told The Weather Channel. "Keep an eye on the news, keep an eye on the forecast."
It the snowstorm intensifies, it could threaten Boston's record — 27.6 inches, over two days in February 2003. It could also be among the biggest in history in New York, where the record is 26.9 inches, set in February 2006.
Along the low-lying coast, flooding was a major concern. The National Weather Service warned that the storm would be powerful enough not just to erode coastline and damage homes but to carve whole new inlets along the beaches.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie sent state workers home early and ordered state offices closed for Tuesday. He noted that people were already descending on grocery stores.
"Don't know why the rush on bread, but what the heck," he told reporters.
Travel was treacherous. Part of Interstate 81 was shut down near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania after a tractor-trailer jack-knifed and a beer truck crashed into the median. No injuries were reported.
Schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut announced they were closing early or altogether. Boston canceled school through Wednesday.
The state of Massachusetts had 250,000 tons of salt and 420,000 gallons of deicing liquid at the ready. Boston had 700 pieces of equipment to prepare the roads and plow them later.
"Very highly populated areas of the Northeast are going to get crushed with snow," said Tom Moore, coordinating meteorologist for The Weather Channel. "Everywhere ... you're going to get hit very hard by this storm."
Coastal Massachusetts braced for wind gusts that could reach 75 mph, enough when paired with the snow to create whiteout conditions.
With a big sendoff from the city of Boston, the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots got out of town just before the storm arrived. The team was headed for Phoenix, where the temperature will reach the high 60s.
The blizzard threat came after millions of Americans across the Northeast awoke Saturday to a blanket of snow that was later doused with rain, leaving New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania a sloppy mess.
Scott Flath, general manager of Long Island Hardware in Bohemia, New York, said his store is well-stocked but that many of his customers are making their first winter supply runs of the season.
He said they're telling him, "I have no idea where my shovel for last year is."
Elisha Fieldstadt and M. Alex Johnson of NBC News contributed to this report.