A major winter storm is descending on the Northeast, where governors and mayors issued emergency declarations on Sunday in anticipation of heavy snow and high winds that they said were expected to lead to widespread power losses and treacherous travel conditions.
Much of the region is under a winter storm warning from a nor’easter, which meteorologists said could bring a prolonged period of snowfall during a pandemic.
President Biden on Sunday discussed storm preparations with his advisers, according to White House pool reporters.
How much will it snow?
More than a foot of snow is expected from eastern Pennsylvania to southern New England from Sunday night through Tuesday, the National Weather Service said on Sunday.
The intensity of the snow is likely to be higher for New York City, northeast New Jersey, the lower Hudson Valley, much of Nassau County on Long Island and southwestern Connecticut, according to the Upton, N.Y., office of the National Weather Service. It predicted that those areas could see 18 to 24 inches of snow.
Some areas of northwestern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania could surpass two feet of accumulation, a snowfall map released by the agency showed.
Across eastern Massachusetts and most of Rhode Island, 12 to 18 inches of snow is expected, forecasters said.
Is this considered a blizzard?
“Blizzard” is a colloquialism that is often used when there is a significant winter storm.
But certain conditions must be met for a storm to qualify as a blizzard — the distinction is not based solely on snowfall.
The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm that has sustained wind gusts that exceed 35 miles per hour for at least three hours, along with blowing snow limiting visibility to less than a quarter-mile.
Meteorologists said that the winter storm arriving on Sunday might drop more than two inches of snow an hour in some areas, and that it appeared to have the hallmarks of a blizzard.
What’s a nor’easter?
A nor’easter is a broad term used for storms that move along the Eastern Seaboard with winds that are typically from the northeast and that blow over coastal areas, according to the National Weather Service.
They can form at various times of the year.
This storm developed when an area of low pressure over the Ohio Valley, which brought snow to the Lower Great Lakes and northern Mid-Atlantic, “passed the baton” to a nor’easter forming off the East Coast, the Weather Service said.
The nor’easter is expected to stall off the coast of New Jersey, and it might produce snowfall rates of two inches per hour, forecasters said.
How are cities and states preparing?
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio placed restrictions on travel starting at 6 a.m. on Monday, and said that residents should travel only in case of an emergency. Health care workers, emergency responders and transit employees are exempt from the restrictions.
In Philadelphia, officials said that they had mobilized more than 400 pieces of equipment to help with snow removal and that workers had been brining the roads since Friday.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey, who declared a state of emergency that began at 7 p.m. on Sunday, said he had spoken to all of the major utility companies in the state in advance of the storm.
“There’s a high potential for power outages due to heavy snow and high winds,” Mr. Murphy said on Twitter. “Charge your devices, and if you experience a power outage — report it immediately.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced that short- and long-tandem-trailer trucks would be banned on portions of the New York State Thruway starting at 5 a.m. on Monday. On Interstate 84 from the Pennsylvania border to the Connecticut state line, trailers will be banned outright.
Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut banned all empty and tandem trailers from traveling on Interstates 95 and 91 starting at 5 a.m. on Monday. Trailers will be banned entirely on Interstate 84 in the state.
Would two feet of snow in New York City set a record?
If this storm drops two feet of snow in Manhattan, as the agency has predicted, it will be the city’s fourth-largest snowfall.