'Extreme' Blizzard Bears Down on East Coast with Record Snowfall Possible

Light snow flurries began to swirl early Monday morning ahead of what New YorkCity mayor Bill de Blasio has warned could be a “potentially historic” snowstorm. 


The National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings along the US east coast from central New Jersey to the Canadian border, effective through Tuesday. The storm is expected to strike just before the evening commute on Monday and intensify overnight. New Yorkers are being told to brace for powerful winds that could topple power lines and tree limbs, and extremely low visibility. The blizzard could dump two to three feet of snow from northern New Jersey to Connecticut

Boston is expected to get 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61cm) of snow, and Philadelphiacould see 14 to 18 inches, the NWS said.

“My message to New Yorkers is to prepare for something worse than we have seen before,” De Blasio said during a Sunday afternoon news conference. “Now is the time to get ready for this extreme weather.”

The mayor urged commuters to work from home on Monday if possible, or otherwise plan to leave work early, as gusts of wind are forecast to reach the 40 to 70 mph range, causing near-zero visibility.

“Change your plans, change your behavior, change your approach starting right now,” De Blasio urged residents. “This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before.”

The mayor is due to give an update on the storm and the city’s preparedness at a press conference late Monday morning.

Schools were due to remain open on Monday but would likely close on Tuesday, the mayor said. The annual count of the city’s homeless population was due to take place on Monday night but has been postponed because of the storm.

On Sunday evening, New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned that public transit may be curtailed ahead of the evening commute. Bus, commuter rail and subway services were running as usual on Monday morning, but the Metropolitian Transportation Authority said on its website that officials would make adjustments to the transportation schedule depending on how the storm progresses. All local buses will be equipped with chains or snow tires by rush hour on Monday.

“New York state is taking all necessary precautions to prepare for this storm, and I urge residents to put safety first and plan ahead to protect themselves and others throughout the duration of this snowstorm.”

The governor said at least 1,806 plows and more than 126,000 tons of salt have been mobilized.

Airlines have cancelled more than 1,900 flights into and out of the United States on Monday, according to Flightaware.com. At least 1,340 flights arriving to or departing from New York’s three area airports were cancelled. Hundreds of flights were cancelled out of Philadelphia and Chicago.

On social media, east coast residents shared photos of bare grocery store shelves as frantic residents stock up in anticipation of the big storm, accompanied by hashtag #blizzardof2015 and #snowmaggedon2015. 

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