Thousands of flights grounded as heavy snow storm threatens US

Widespread power outages possible with hurricane-strength gusts of 119 km/h

A powerful winter storm has already grounded thousands of flights as it threatens to bring heavy snow to New York and Boston, while raking the Atlantic coast with blizzard conditions.

New York City will likely get six to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) of snow, though almost of Long Island could see a foot or more, according to Marc Chenard, a senior branch forecaster with the US Weather Prediction Center. Boston could now see as much as two feet and, as the storm passes through, there will be pockets of heavier snow that could push totals to between 24 and 30 inches.

Snow will start in earnest in New York about 7 pm Friday and overnight in Boston, where Mayor Michelle Wu has declared a snow emergency and opened 24-hour shelters. Eastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, may end up with two feet, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service is warning people to stay off the roads and if they do travel to “have a winter survival kit with you”. Widespread power outages are possible, with wind gusts near hurricane-strength of 119 km/h (74 miles ) in the bomb cyclone.


Blizzard warnings stretch from Virginia to Maine, including the Delmarva Peninsula and Boston. This is Boston's first blizzard warning since March 2018, said Rob Carolan, owner of Hometown Forecast Services.

“We are very easily going to gust over hurricane force on Cape Cod,” said Mr Carolan. Snow will fall so fast and winds will blow so hard along New England’s coast that plows won’t be able to keep up, he said.

‘Bomb out’

The storm will rapidly intensify as it comes northeast with its central pressure dropping at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, a process called bombogenesis that forecasters shorten to “bomb out”.

More than 3,940 flights flights have been cancelled around the US from Friday through Sunday, with the majority out of Boston, New York, Newark, New Jersey and Washington, according to FlightAware, an airline tracking service.

New Jersey will close all state offices at 3 pm and dismiss employees so they can get home before the afternoon rush hour, governor Phil Murphy said in a Friday briefing. The state will declare a state of emergency beginning at 5 pm, in preparation for "a significant statewide snow event".

“Our advice to everyone is to be prepared to hunker down once you get home this afternoon and stay home,” Mr Murphy said. “Stay home tonight and stay home tomorrow.”

Winter storm warnings extend into Canada's Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, as well as parts of Newfoundland, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. As much as 40 cm of snow could fall in Halifax, with winds gusting to 100 km/h through Sunday, the agency said.

PJM Interconnection, the largest US grid operator, told generators to ensure they have sufficient fuel supplies and asked transmission companies to cancel maintenance plans across the southern and Mid-Atlantic region ahead of the storm.

Temperatures will remain below freezing across much of the Northeast until at least Tuesday, meaning not a lot of snow will melt for a few days, US Weather Prediction Center’s Chenard said. – Bloomberg