Forecasters warned on Friday that a deluge of snow and wintery conditions could bring travel chaos to the US northeast this weekend, with some 25 million people subject to a storm warning.
Several cities in the eastern United States including New York, the most-populous city in the country, have gone record periods without winter snowfall.
But the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a winter storm warning that “travel could be nearly impossible” in places over the weekend, threatening chaos for travelers returning from winter breaks.
The affected area stretches from just outside Boston, inland across the northeast through parts of New England down towards Baltimore and Washington, DC.
“This has the potential to be a real storm for the city,” said Boston official Jascha Franklin-Hodge.
“The weather really will begin tomorrow evening into Sunday and hopefully let up in time for it to be taken care of before Monday commutes and Monday starts to school,” said Boston’s mayor Michelle Wu.
Ice was likely to cause power outages and fell trees, forecasters warned as winter storm Ember closed in on heavily populated areas.
“(A) winter storm watch has been issued for Saturday morning through Saturday evening,” the NWS said in a forecast that warned up to three inches of snow and sleet could accumulate in highly-populated areas.
“Low pressure will bring wintry precipitation to portions of the region Saturday into Saturday evening.”
Portions of northern Connecticut, and swathes of Massachusetts could face snow accumulations of between six and 12 inches as well as wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour, the NWS warned.
The governor of New York state ordered an emergency response in anticipation of the large coastal weather system.
“We anticipate heavy, wet snowfall across various regions, potentially causing power outages and hazardous travel. I urge New Yorkers to be vigilant,” said governor Kathy Hochul in a statement.
The state had 1,617 large plow trucks and 36 snow blowers on hand to meet the challenge, Hochul’s statement said.
In the Brooklyn borough of New York, hardware stores were selling shovels and salt to residents preparing for the storm front.
The storm will also hit Canada:
In 2022 the US northeast was battered by what authorities called the “blizzard of the century” that left dozens dead.
Scientists say human-caused climate change, brought about by the unchecked burning of fossil fuels, is making winter storms wetter and wilder.
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