On Friday the Northeast faced a storm that was expected to blanket the region in snow and frigid temperatures, the next day system swept through the Midwest, clogging roadways and snarling commutes.
More than 100 million people — almost one-third of the U.S. population — were in the path of a storm that started battering the Midwest and the East Coast with snow early Thursday.
By late Thursday night, the National Weather Service said 21 in. of snow had fallen in a town just north of Boston. About 18 in. fell on parts of upstate New York, and New York City was bracing for heavy snowfall overnight and into Friday morning.
“As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to many parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel and stay indoors,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both ordered state offices closed on Friday for non-essential employees, saying they expected the worst to hit between late Thursday and early Friday morning, reports Reuters.
“The real action is going to get cranked up this evening and during the overnight hours. We’ll have heavy snow, windy conditions, reduced visibilities,” said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.
Residents of New York City braced for up to 12 in. of snow between Thursday evening and Friday morning, with wind chills as low as –10°F and temperatures expected to persist in the single digits into Saturday. Albany, in upstate New York, was facing up to 14 in. of snow and wind chills as cold as 25 below zero. The storm will be at its worst between 8 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Friday.
Schools were closed across the region, and police were busy responding to accidents and reports of stranded vehicles. Governors in New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency Thursday, urging residents to stay home. But few power outages were reported Friday and the cold made the snow easy to manage.
“It’s light and fluffy, so it’s easy,” said 33-year-old Michael Connors, was shoveling in front of businesses in downtown Fairfield, Conn.
The brunt of the storm began late Thursday in parts of New England and New York state. Forecasters warned that gusts of up to 30 miles per hour could bring wind chills to minus 25 degrees, cold enough to cause frostbite in about 30 minutes or less. The weather service said people should dress warmly to avoid hypothermia and cover all exposed skin.
Lake Erie and Lake Ontario also brewed up their own lake-effect snows Thursday evening which the National Weather Service said would hit places including Cleveland and Buffalo, N.Y., with up to 5 inches of snow.
In New England, meteorologists warned of possible flooding along the coast south of Boston and on Cape Cod, with dangerously low wind chills expected. Boston is expected to hit a high of only 13 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, with wind chills dipping to 19 below Friday night. Areas to the north and west could be colder, says the Wall Street Journal.