Blizzard blasts Northeast with snow, wind and bitter cold
(CNN) — The heavy snow falling along much of the mid-Atlantic Coast into New England is expected to taper off Friday as a nor’easter heads into Canada, leaving bitter cold in its wake, the National Weather Service said.
By early morning, the snowfall was nearly finished in the nation’s capital; it was expected to stop by late morning in New York City, where 6 inches were covering Central Park, and by early afternoon in Boston, which got socked by nearly 15 inches.
North of Boston, residents of Topsfield, Massachusetts, got nearly 2 feet of snow.
The combination of cold and winds gusting more than 30 mph was expected to lower wind chill temperatures to less than 10 degrees over the mid-Atlantic and into the teens in New England.
And not just the Northeast will be hit, forecasters said. About one-third of the nation — approximately 100 million people in 22 states — is in the path of this storm.
Snow was also predicted from the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes, with as much as 8 inches expected in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and additional snow possible along a cold front that extends through the Midwest and into the Central Plains, the service said.
Across the country, the weather has snarled travel plans for many.
FlightAware.com, which tracks cancellations due to weather and mechanical problems, said more than 2,000 flights had been canceled for Friday within, into or out of the United States. That’s after more than 2,600 U.S. flights were canceled Thursday.
Flights were expected to resume later Friday in much of New England, though delays were predicted at some airports. Ticket holders were urged to check with their airlines.
Barb Plooster had planned to fly Friday from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Grand Rapids, Michigan, but her flight was canceled. She told CNN affiliate WICU that she was on the phone with United Airlines for five hours trying to find a way to get home but has concluded that she will have to wait until Monday. “We got a warm place to stay, get to visit the kids, the grandkids, so it’s OK,” she said.
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect where:
New York and Long Island
A winter storm warning was to remain in effect across the five boroughs until 1 p.m., with wind gusts dropping wind chills to as low as 15 below, the mayor’s office said.
“This has been and remains a dangerous storm,” newly sworn-in Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday in a prepared statement. “The best things people can do are to stay off the roads so we can clear them as fast as possible, and to check in on elderly and vulnerable neighbors who might need help this morning.”
New York City had gotten nearly 10 inches of snow by the time it abated late Friday morning, de Blasio told reporters. “It’s hard to drive out there,” he said. “If you do not need to travel today, please stay home.”
Sanitation workers were on 12-hour shifts to clear the city’s 6,200 miles of roadways, he said.
Long Island will be under a blizzard warning until 1 p.m. Friday, with wind chills as low as 10 below zero and sustained winds of at least 35 mph.
Flight operations resumed late Friday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport; they were continuing — despite hundreds of cancellations — at LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.
Temperatures in the single digits were predicted for Saturday morning.
New York City public schools were closed Friday.
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.
The weather had its fans. In Rochester, New York, CNN iReporter Blake Sampson, 29, took a picture from his apartment window. “I grew up in Minnesota, so I’m used to it,” he said. “I like how quiet things get when there is a fresh blanket of snow.”
That blanket covered Boston, which expected to see 10 to 18 inches of snow and temperatures as low as 6 degrees below zero by Friday night.
But limited flights were continuing into and out of Boston’s Logan Airport.
The state’s emergency management agency predicted up to 2 feet of snow on parts of the North Shore, South Shore and Cape Cod.
Students in scores of school districts were told to stay home Friday.
“I guess Mother Nature wanted to give me one more gift,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said Thursday, one of his last days in the office he has held since 1993.
Blizzard warnings were in effect for parts of nearby Essex and Plymouth counties — including the communities of Gloucester, Brockton and Plymouth — as well as Cape Cod.
The state warned that midday high tides could produce “significant flooding” along the coast. The towns of Scituate and Duxbury requested voluntary evacuations 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.
Delaware said state offices were closed for all but “essential employees.”
Chicago and points beyond
In the Windy City, wind chills Friday will creep down to minus 12, with more snow possible over the weekend.
The arctic blast was expected to be the coldest in 17 years, with temperatures predicted to drop below zero Sunday evening and not return to positive digits until Wednesday.
Though snow in Chicago in the winter is a common event, it “can still wreak havoc on daily routines,” city emergency director Gary Schenkel said.
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,” CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.
The cold air will kick off a new storm Sunday into Monday that could affect a number of 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.
The U.S. weather had international implications, too: All meetings were canceled Friday at the United Nations headquarters complex on New York’s East Side.
CNN meteorologists Dave Hennen and Sherri Pugh and CNN’s Kristin Hamill, Chuck Johnston, Ashley Fantz, Greg Botelho and AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.
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