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.
Coastal flooding is forecast with this storm in eastern Massachusetts and to some extent along the northern shore of Long Island with minor coastal flooding for a brief time along part of the New Jersey coast.
The period of strong northeast winds will occur within a couple of days of the new moon and high astronomical tides. Water levels averaging up to 4 feet above published values are likely along the Massachusetts eastern shoreline. The worst coastal flooding conditions will occur during the high tide cycle during the middle of Friday night and during the midday hours Saturday.
Warm air has played its roll around New York City, as expected, resulting in rain or a wintry mix during part of the storm.
Heavy wet snow wrap can still around into New York City for an extended period Friday night, bringing a foot of the white stuff. Even without complete phasing of the storms until later Friday night, New York City and Long Island will get significant snow. Portions of Long Island could experience blizzard conditions for a time Friday night.
A separate story on the storm's role in New York City is available on AccuWeather.com. Information on the weather from Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey on south with this storm is also available on AccuWeather.com.
According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "A fresh injection of arctic air will fuel the blizzard over New England."
The colder air will cause rain to change to snow on Cape Cod and Long Island, as well as cause wet snow to become more dry and powdery with time over southern New England, making it subject to tremendous blowing and drifting in most areas.
Snow from the Alberta Clipper part of the storm will still deliver plenty of snow to shovel and plow over much of upstate New York, as well as hinder travel.
A separate story on the impact of the Alberta Clipper around the Great Lakes is now available on AccuWeather.com.
On a brighter note, for those who were able to "get out of Dodge" early on Friday ahead of the worst of the storm, it will be a great weekend for skiing. Hopefully, the roads will be cleared by the time they get back next week.