The massive blizzard that is set to slam into New England and race up the northeast coast Friday is following the same track as Hurricane Sandy and already disrupting road and air travel in the region.
The National Weather Service issued a major winter storm warning for blizzard conditions for Friday and into early Saturday that are set to impact most of the coastal sections of the northeast, from New Jersey to Maine. Coastal flood warnings are also in effect from Delaware into coastal New England.
The weather agency predicts the storm will leave generate some two feet or more of snow in some areas and pack wind gusts of up to 60 mph, with the worst hitting Friday evening.
The second massive storm system to hit the region in four months comes after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy that impacted 24 states from Florida to Maine and created a storm surge that hit New York City, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines. Damage estimates for that superstorm were more than $65 billion and some areas have still not completely recovered.
Amtrak has canceled northbound trains after 1 p.m., and the major airlines have canceled nearly 4,000 flights into and out of the states in the storm’s path.
Power companies in the targeted states are shoring up resources with extra crew members. Long Island, which was hit hard by Sandy, had more than 500 linemen already on site, preparing for expected widespread electrical outages, CNN reported.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino and his public safety team finalized preparations Thursday for what promises to be the biggest storm to hit the commonwealth in years, calling the storm "large and powerful."
Friday morning, Massachusetts officials decided to shut the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority by mid-afternoon, close school systems, keeping nonessential state workers at home and urging the private sector to follow suit, a pre-emptive move to heighten safety, according to The Boston Globe. Gov. Deval Patrick ordered all vehicles in the state off the roads by 4 p.m.
Some 6,000 National Guard are on alert as well in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
In New Jersey, the Emergency Broadcast System alerted thousands in the state that the blizzard was on its way. When asked how Union Beach — one of the communities hardest-hit by Sandy — was preparing for the storm, Mayor Paul Smith told The Star-Ledger, "besides praying?” “We’re as ready as we can be. We’re hoping it’s not too bad,” he said. “I hope it goes left or right.”
New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan urged residents to take precautions ahead of the storm. "With heavy snowfall and high winds expected from tomorrow’s storm, we must all remember that preparation and safety begin at home," said Hassan. "I encourage all New Hampshire residents to make sure they have the supplies needed to weather the storm and to check on their neighbors, especially the elderly and those experiencing disabilities, to ensure they are prepared as well.” Hassan said the state’s EOC will also be activated throughout the storm.
States of emergency have been declared in Boston and Connecticut. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy warned that some roads in his state may be closed as early as noon. Malloy said that people need to take the storm seriously, and he's urging motorists to stay off the roads so emergency workers can get to where they need to go. He also urged residents to stay home once the weather gets bad.
The impending storm dubbed “#Nemo” in cyberspace also sparked a tsunami of social media comments. “Damn, this storm is huge,” tweeted Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) and Newark Mayor Cory Booker tweeted: “I'm telling u to use the "3 C's:" common sense, caution & always compassion.”
Image: A satellite image from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite on Feb. 8 shows a western frontal system approaching the coastal low pressure area. Image courtesy of NASA GOES Project.
This article was originally published by Governing.