Two storms have joined forces to bring a major blizzard to New England Friday night into Saturday. There are already airline and rail delays. Roads may become impassable in many areas.
The storm will do more than end a recent snow drought in part of New England. The list is long on storm characteristics and impacts. Some areas will be hit with an all-out blizzard and buried under a couple of feet of snow and massive drifts.
Roadway travel has been banned in some areas. While keeping vehicles off the roads may help crews, high winds and extensive drifting snow may make it impossible to keep all roads open, even during Saturday.
The heaviest snow started spreading into Long Island and southeastern New England on Friday evening as the storm ramped up off of the Northeast coast.
The worst of the storm will hit the Boston area Friday night and will wind down Saturday morning. Winds will not shut down until Saturday night. However, lingering effects including blocked roads and other travel problems are likely to linger into much of the weekend.
Numerous flight delays and cancellations are occurring throughout New England and elsewhere across the nation.
A State of Emergency has been declared in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.
Auto accidents have already been reported. Some service stations in the Boston area were out of gas as motorists and those with generators fueled up ahead of the storm.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has already announced that service will be suspended on all modes effective 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 8.
Boston Logan Airport will remain open through the blizzard, but all flights will be canceled Friday.
Amtrak has already adjusted its Friday travel schedule, reducing its service on Northeast Regional routes. Southbound service out of Boston South Station will be suspended following 1:40 p.m. Northbound service out of New York Penn Station will cease at 1:03 p.m.
The storm will bring strong winds causing not only white-out conditions and massive drifts, but also coastal flooding and power outages. Gusts can approach hurricane force in coastal areas. If the power goes out, it could take days for crews to repair all of the lines.
At the height of the storm, snow can fall at the rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour and may be accompanied by thunder and lightning and hurricane force gusts. For a time it may seem like a hurricane with snow, or a "Snowicane®."
The intense snowfall rate anticipated is making the forecast especially challenging. A matter of a couple of hours versus 12 hours of intense snow will make the difference between a manageable few inches and a debilitating few feet of snowfall. Nearby to the south (around New York City and east (Cape Cod) of this intense snow, a rain/snow mix or plain rain will fall for a time.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick emphasized that drivers stay off the roads beginning after noon Friday.
With such intense snowfall, vehicles can become stuck and people can become stranded.
Weak and/or flat roofs could collapse under the weight of the snow, which could be greatly uneven due to drifting.
The hardest-hit areas are likely to include Hartford and Providence to Boston, Worcester, Concord, Portsmouth and Portland. The worst of the storm will hit coastal areas of northern New England and southern Nova Scotia later Friday night into Saturday.