By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
With a winter storm forecast to explode into a "potentially historic"
blizzard over New England and New York this weekend, tens of millions
of people are bracing for travel nightmares and power outages.
storm was getting cranked up Thursday around the Great Lakes, where 6
to 12 inches could fall in parts of Wisconsin, Michigan and New York
New England and New York are forecast to take the hardest
hit, but others around the country could feel the ripple effect from
canceled flights out of New York and other airports along the Eastern
The New York City metro area, home to three airports and
20 million residents in four states, is expected to see heavy snow,
with as much as 12 inches possible in the metro area, according to
AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
The National Weather
Service said in an online report that "a potentially historic winter
storm and blizzard is expected to drop 1 to 2 feet of snow across much
of the region," and that "travel may become near impossible at times
with considerable blowing and drifting snow."
The storm isn't
expected to have a major economic impact on New England, said economist
David Iaia of Lexington, Mass.-based IHS Global Insight.
everything just shuts down for a day, the vast majority of business
merely gets shifted to before the storm or after the storm," Iaia said.
afternoon, the National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for
the entire New York City metro area, Long Island, all of Connecticut and
Rhode Island, eastern Massachusetts and coastal sections of New
Hampshire and Maine. Some parts of New England should see more than 2
feet of snow, and some coastal areas could see hurricane-force winds of
up to 74 mph, the weather service says.
Anticipating the storm's
impact, every big U.S. airline has issued flexible re-booking policies.
The move allowed most fliers ticketed to fly to airports in the storm's
path to make one change to their flights without the standard change
By late Thursday, airlines had already proactively canceled
nearly 1,200 flights ahead of the storm, according to flight-tracking
service FlightAware. About three-fourths 3/4 of that number came just
from the three New York airports.
With such a large number of
cancellations, the flight disruptions in New York and the Northeast are
all but certain to ripple through airports across the nation. A flight
from Houston to Los Angeles, for example, could become delayed or
canceled if the aircraft or crew scheduled to fly it gets knocked off
schedule because of problems in Boston or New York.
This has the
potential to be a top 10 snowstorm of all time in Boston, according to
the Weather Channel. A snow total of 18.2 inches or more would place it
in that list.
In addition to the snow, winds and coastal flooding
are also concerns: In Massachusetts, there is a chance of "ferocious
sustained winds near 50 mph at the coast, with wind gusts in excess of
hurricane force -- 74 mph," Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff
He adds that the winds will push ocean water
onshore, potentially causing flooding in Boston. One forecast, Masters
says, shows the city could see the third-highest water level on record.
Weather Channel, as part of its new winter storm naming system, has
dubbed this storm Nemo. Neither the National Weather Service nor any
other private weather agencies are using the name.
Two storms -
one moving in from the Great Lakes that's producing the snow there
Thursday and another one moving up the East Coast - are forecast to
merge near New England on Friday, Walker says.
combined with a high pressure system over Canada that's supplying cold
air, provide "a classic setup for a major winter storm across southern
New England," the weather service says.
storm should put an end to Boston's snow drought this winter: The city
has received only 10 inches of snow this winter season, according to the
weather service. Typically, more than 25 inches would have fallen so
far this winter.
It's actually been more than two years since
Boston has seen a snowstorm of greater than 6 inches, according to
Weather Channel meteorologist Jon Erdman.
In Massachusetts, about
3,000 snow-removal and salt trucks will be on the streets throughout the
state during the storm, says Peter Judge, spokesman for the
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Not everyone is
panicked about the incoming storm. Ski resorts all over New England are
excited about what could be the biggest snowfall of the season: "If I
had a tail it would be wagging," says Stowe Mountain Resort spokesman
Mike Colbourn. "Presidents' week is next week, a big nor'easter - all of
the stars are in alignment."
"As far as where the big ski areas
are, we are at ground zero for this storm - we are in the 24-inch band,"
says Bruce McCloy, director of Marketing for Mount Sunapee Resort in
Newbury, N.H., "We are so excited! It's going to be awesome! How are we
getting ready? We are dancing a jig, and then after that, we are getting
ready. We haven't had any big storms in the past two years so this is
Contributing: Ben Mutzabaugh, Natalie DiBlasio, Melanie Eversley