Thousands of flights in the United States have been cancelled as parts of the East Coast braced for a shellacking by a powerful winter storm packing heavy snow and high winds.
Places in the northeast, including New York and Boston, were expected to bear the brunt of the far-reaching system, which is also predicted to pummel the mid-Atlantic.
Salt machines and snowplows were at the ready in New York, where Mayor Eric Adams tweeted that a foot (30 centimeters) of snow was predicted, but warned that “Mother Nature has a tendency to do what she wants.”
Some 3,400 flights were already canceled for Saturday traveling within, into or out of the United States, according to flight tracker FlightAware.
Cancellations on Friday totaled more than 1,450.
The National Weather Service (NWS) warned of “whiteout conditions and nearly impossible travel at times” along portions of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts, with snowfall accumulations greater than a foot expected in parts of the same region.
State of emergency
The governors of New York and New Jersey declared a state of emergency while Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared a snow emergency.
The storm will produce extremely cold temperatures with dangerous wind chills on Saturday night into Sunday morning, the NWS said.
“Get home safely tonight, remain home over the weekend, avoid any unnecessary travel,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement, singling out Long Island, New York City and the lower Hudson Valley for particularly deep snow.
The NWS Eastern Region reported that the storm was expected to intensify rapidly over the next 24 hours, with pressure expected to fall about 35 millibars by Saturday evening.
This rapid intensification is sometimes referred to as a “bomb cyclone”.
The blizzard comes on the heels of a similar winter storm that blanketed a swath of Eastern North America – from Georgia to Canada – just two weeks ago, cutting power to thousands of homes and also disrupting thousands of flights.