A strong northern Easter on Saturday swept up the east coast, threatening to bury parts of 10 states under deep, furiously falling snow accompanied by coastal floods and strong winds that could cut off the current and cause people to shake in the cold weather that is expected to follow after.
Philadelphia, New York and Boston – the latter of which were under a blizzard warning and expected to get as much as 2 feet of snow – were all in the storm’s path. Airlines canceled more than 3,000 flights at some of the country’s busiest airports. Amtrak suspended or limited service on the Boston-to-Washington corridor.
Officials from Virginia to Maine warned people to stay off the roads under potential whiteout conditions.
Rhode Island, which was all under a snowstorm warning, banned all road traffic without emergencies from 6 p.m.
“This is serious. We are ready for this storm and we also need the Rhode Islanders ready,” Governor Dan McKee said. “The best way to deal with this storm is to stay home tomorrow.”
Delaware only allowed significant personnel to drive in two of its three counties from Friday night. Massachusetts, where forecasters said some insulated pockets could get as much as 30 inches of snow, banned heavy trucks from interstate highways most of Saturday.
Shoppers filled stores Friday to stock up on food and buy generators and snow blowers ahead of nor’easter, a type of storm so named because its winds typically blow from the northeast as it whizzes up the east coast.
Many hardy New Englanders cheerfully took the forecast and even looked forward to the storm, given its weekend timing.
Marc Rudkowski, 28, bought French bread and wine Friday at the Star Market in Cambridge, Massachusetts, along with balloons and toys for his 1-year-old dog last Friday.
“He’s going to love it,” Rudkowski said. “He’s a snow dog.”
Merrick McCormack was calm as he unloaded his groceries at a supermarket in Warwick, Rhode Island.
“I’m not bothering with storms. I know in a few days we’ll be free and ready. No need to panic,” said McCormack, 51, of Cranston.
But there were some concerns about hoarding in the midst of ongoing supply chain problems caused by the pandemic. New England supermarket giant Stop & Shop pleaded with customers to exercise restraint.
“We are asking customers to buy what they need and save something for their neighbors,” the chain said in a statement.
Parts of 10 states were under blizzard warnings: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Areas closest to the coast were expected to carry the bulk of the storm, which could bring gusts as high as 70 mph (113 km / h) in New England.
Coastal New Jersey was predicted to receive as much as 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow and eastern Long Island up to 17 inches (43 centimeters). Philadelphia, New York City and parts of the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia could get 10 inches (25 centimeters) or more.
Virginia, where a snowstorm this month stranded hundreds of motorists for hours on Interstate 95, did not hesitate to get the resources ready. In Maryland, the governor mobilized the National Guard.
Washington and Baltimore were predicted to be spared the worst snowfall, with 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 8 inches) and 5 inches (13 inches), respectively.
Snow could fall as fast as 5 inches per hour in places including Connecticut, where officials were concerned about having enough snow plow drivers amid shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic and other problems.
The worst storm was expected to blow Sunday morning into Canada, where several provinces were under warning.
A saving grace, at least in parts of Massachusetts: The snow should fall lightly and flaking because it comes with cold weather that dries it out, said Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for the commercial firm Atmospheric Environmental Research.
That means miserable snowballs – and snow that is less able to break the tree branches and tear down power lines.