Governors of four states have declared a state of emergency as forecasters say a massive blizzard is poised to dump up to 3 feet of snow on the Northeast.
Snow began falling Friday morning in some areas with the heaviest amounts expected to fall at night and into Saturday.
Wind gusts are expected to reach up to 75 mph. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency and banned travel on roads as of 4 p.m. as the state braced for the storm.
As the storm gains strength it will bring “extremely dangerous conditions” with bands of snow dropping up to two to three inches per hour at the height of the blizzard, Patrick said.
Patrick ordered non-emergency state workers to stay home Friday and urged private employers to do the same.
Widespread power failures were feared, along with high tides and flooding in much of the coastal areas.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy declared a state of emergency and is asking all residents to limit travel.
Roads in the state will be subject to closure beginning at noon.
“People need to take this storm seriously. If current predictions are accurate, we will need people to stay off the roads so that emergency personnel and utility crews can get to the places they need to get to, and make sure that our plows can keep critical roadways clear,” Malloy said.
“Please stay home once the weather gets bad except in the case of real emergency.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also declared a state of emergency to give the government more flexibility in dealing with the snow and ice expected in the area. Cuomo says the weather will be bad, but the state has been through much worse.
In New England, it could prove to be among the top 10 snowstorms in history, and perhaps even break Boston’s record of 27.6 inches, set in 2003 forecasters said.
The last major snowfall in southern New England was well over a year ago, the Halloween storm of 2011.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island as some areas of the state are predicted to get 2 feet of snow.
The governor urged residents to take “extreme caution” and stay off the roads.
More than 3,700 flights through Saturday have been canceled with disruptions from the blizzard certain to ripple across the U.S.
New York City’s three main airports, most domestic carriers planned to cease operations between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, resuming after noon on Saturday. At Boston’s Logan and other New England airports, most airlines were to cease operations between noon and 4 p.m. and would restart Saturday.
Amtrak said its Northeast trains will stop running Friday afternoon.
“This one doesn’t come along every day. This is going to be a dangerous winter storm,” Alan Dunham, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. said. “Wherever you need to get to, get there by Friday afternoon and don’t plan on leaving.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said plows and 250,000 tons of salt were being put on standby as he urged residents to stay home Friday night.
“We hope forecasts are exaggerating the amount of snow, but you can never tell,” Bloomberg said.
New York City is expected to get between 10-15 inches of snow across its five boroughs.
Blizzard warnings were issued for parts of New Jersey and New York’s Long Island as well as portions of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The warnings extended into New Hampshire and Maine.
In Whitman, a southeast Mass. town where up to 30 inches of snow is forecast, public work crews were cleaning crosswalk signs, trash barrels and anything else that might impeded plows later.
“We’ve had instances where they have predicted something big and it’s petered out,” Dennis Smith, a DPW worker said.
“I don’t think this is going to be one of those times.”
Diane Lopes was among the shoppers who packed a supermarket Thursday in the coastal fishing city of Gloucester, Mass. She said she went to a different grocery earlier in the day but it was too crowded. Lopes said she has strep throat and normally wouldn’t leave the house but had to stock up on basic foods — “and lots of wine.”
Saturday, 09 February, 2013 at 04:54 UTC RSOE
“A major snowstorm is hitting the north-eastern US and eastern Canada, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without power and paralysing transport.
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut and Maine are all on an emergency footing, with millions of residents being warned to stay indoors.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has temporarily banned all non-essential traffic on the state’s roads.
Meteorologists say the storm could be New England’s worst for decades.
Airlines cancelled more than 5,000 flights – including all those to and from the three major airports in New York City – and the train operator Amtrak has suspended nearly all services north of the city.
People have been warned to stay off the roads, and stock up on food and other supplies as the storm affects 25 million people in the region.
More than 600,000 homes and businesses are without power in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
A nuclear power station in Massachusetts also lost power and was forced to shut down. Back-up generators are operating equipment and there is no threat to the public, officials said.
Canadians on the Atlantic Coast are also bracing for blizzards after heavy snow fell on Ontario.
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are under blizzard or storm watches.
Ontario has already seen 200 vehicle accidents, the CBC reported. At least three people have been killed.
One US man in his 70s also died when he lost control of his vehicle in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Blizzard warnings are in effect for much of the coastal section of the north-eastern US, from Newark to southern Maine.
Forecasters said the storm could dump as much as three feet (90cm) of snow in some places as it hammered swathes of territory, with winds of up to 75mph (120km/h) expected to create deep drifts.
Police in New York say hundreds of cars are stuck on the Long Island Expressway, with officers trying to help the drivers to safety.
Parts of Massachusetts were under two feet of snow, with more expected over the weekend.
“This is a storm of major proportions,” warned Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. “Stay off the roads. Stay home.”
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said: “People need to take this storm seriously. Please stay home once the weather gets bad except in the case of real emergency.”
In New York City, which is expecting a 12in (30cm) snowfall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said snow ploughs and 250,000 tonnes of salt were being put on standby.
The storm has also disrupted New York Fashion Week, which is held under a big tent. Organisers say they will bring in extra crews to help with snow removal and add an extra layer of tenting to the venue.
Some parts in the city are still recovering from Sandy, an October storm that brought record flooding. Many of those areas face a renewed risk of storm surge and flooding from the winter storm.
Fuel shortages were being reported from Connecticut to New York City as motorists queued at petrol stations to fill up vehicles, generators and snow blowers.
Mayor Bloomberg urged residents not to panic-buy fuel.