Up to two feet (60 cm) of snow, blustery winds and freezing rain are expected to make travel treacherous and cause power outages on the U.S. East Coast this week when the first winter storm of the season sweeps through, forecasters said on Tuesday. Some 50 million people living in the region stretching from western North Carolina to Pennsylvania and into New England were under winter storm advisories ahead of the Nor’easter’s arrival, the National Weather Service said in a statement on Tuesday.
New York City officials said that they planned to issue a hazardous travel advisory, warning people to stay off the roads ahead of an expected snowfall of 8-12 inches (20-30 cm). “This is a serious storm and people need to take it seriously. You need to be ready for a disruptive storm and make adjustments right now,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, noting that this was the first major snowstorm in a couple of years.
Many schools across the region were continuing with remote learning plans put in place during the pandemic. In New York City, schools will open on Wednesday for students who opted for in-classroom instruction, but officials may turn Thursday into a remote learning day for all students. “As a kid once myself, I feel a little sad that the snow day that we all know may be gone,” de Blasio said.
The snow could significantly reduce visibility and potentially cripple travel in places while winds of up to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) could down trees and power lines, causing power outages, the weather service said. “For much of the area, right along the coast, we are going to have a mix of rain, snow and maybe some sleet and freezing rain,” said Sarah Johnson, a weather service meteorologist in New Jersey. “As you get farther inland, you will see more predominant snow.”
Freezing rain is in the forecast to begin in North Carolina and southwest Virginia on Wednesday morning when a quarter inch of ice is expected to accumulate on the roads, the service said. By Wednesday afternoon, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia will get a wintry mix of snow and rain while snow begins to fall in New Jersey and New York state.
The heaviest snowfall is forecast across western Maryland and south-central Pennsylvania, where as much as two feet of snow could fall. “Get your snow shovels ready and check with neighbors to plan if they’ll need help!,” the City of Boston posted on Twitter, along with photographs of salt deliveries.