New York City is bracing for a significant winter storm expected to dump up to 8 inches of heavy snow across the five boroughs on Tuesday, causing travel disruptions for millions of residents.
The National Weather Service has placed all of New York City under a winter storm watch, warning of heavy snowfall starting Monday night into early Tuesday morning. The storm shifted south from initial forecasts, putting the city directly in its path.
Up to 5-8 inches of accumulation is expected in NYC, Long Island and parts of northeastern New Jersey, along with wind gusts over 40 mph. The NWS warns this could make travel “very difficult to impossible.”
Heavy snowfall combined with strong winds will likely down trees and power lines resulting in power outages across the region,” the NWS stated.
Other parts of the tri-state area are prepping for even more snow. Westchester County and coastal Connecticut could see up to 12 inches of accumulation, while areas farther north like Middletown, NY and Waterbury, CT are bracing for 12-18 inches.
NYC Emergency Management has placed the city under a hazardous travel advisory for Tuesday and activated its Severe Weather Emergency Management Plan. Residents are advised to avoid non-essential travel during the storm.
“We’re preparing for a significant storm on Tuesday, and New Yorkers should also prepare for snowy, dangerous conditions,” said NYC Mayor Adams in a statement. “We encourage New Yorkers to stay off the roads and use mass transit if they have to travel.”
The MTA says it has activated its own winter weather plan in preparation, with tire chains, snow throwers, jet blowers and de-icer trains ready to be deployed. Additional personnel will be on duty to keep subway tracks, bus stops and transit facilities clear of snow.
NYC residents should expect a slower, slushy commute on Tuesday. The Sanitation Department has issued a Snow Alert starting at 3AM Tuesday, with more than 1600 plows ready to salt and clear the streets.
Nor’easter Shifts South, Taking Millions By Surprise
This late-season nor’easter was initially forecast to largely miss New York City, bringing only light rain and snow. But colder air dipping down from the north caused the storm track to shift farther south.
The last-minute change caught many in the Northeast off guard after an unseasonably warm weekend. Temperatures surged into the 60s, breaking records in some areas for the warmest February day.
Syracuse reached 62 degrees to break a 99-year record, while Boston hit 67 degrees. Central Park in NYC topped out at 60 degrees.
The early taste of spring weather had many prematurely swapping their winter coats for short sleeves. Now millions must quickly switch gears to brace for heavy snow and swirling winds instead.
The wild temperature swing is thanks to the winter storm pulling cold air down from the north, colliding with the above-average warmth in place. This clash of air masses energizes storms into “bomb cyclones” that can explode in intensity.
Precipitation started falling across the NYC area overnight, beginning as rain before transitioning to heavy wet snow around sunrise Tuesday as temperatures drop. The worst conditions are expected through the morning and early afternoon.
Snowfall Rates Could Reach 2 Inches Per Hour
Meteorologists warn snowfall rates could reach 1-2 inches per hour at times on Tuesday in New York City, making it difficult for plows to keep up. Gusty winds will lead to blowing snow and near whiteout conditions.
“The morning commute will be significantly impacted,” said the National Weather Service. “If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle.”
The heavy wet snow and high winds could down trees and power lines, leading to scattered power outages across the region. Temperatures hovering in the low 30s will keep the snow sticky and hard to clear.
Boston, Coastal New England Also at Risk
New York City isn’t the only major metro bracing for a major snowstorm. Boston and much of the Massachusetts coast is at risk of similar impacts.
The NWS has posted a Winter Storm Warning for these areas starting early Tuesday morning through the afternoon. Snowfall totals could reach a foot in Boston and up to 18 inches across northeastern Massachusetts.
Wind gusts to 50 mph will create blizzard-like conditions along the coast. The morning commute will be treacherous with slippery roads and poor visibility.
Officials strongly discourage any unnecessary travel to keep roads clear for plows and emergency vehicles. For those who must head out, use caution and take it slow. Keep extra distance between vehicles and be watchful for slick spots.
“Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities,” the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency advised. “The hazardous conditions will impact the morning commute.”
Residents should fully fuel vehicles, charge cell phones and gather flashlights and other storm preparedness essentials ahead of the nor’easter. Have plenty of food, water and medicine available to ride out the storm at home.
Winter Storm Survival Tips
For those in the path of the impending winter blast, here are some tips to stay safe and be ready:
- Stock up on essentials like food, medicine, batteries ahead of time so you can hunker down at home and avoid venturing out in the worst of it. Clear sidewalks and driveways of snow to prevent injuries.
- Drive slowly and defensively. Allow extra stopping distance between cars. Keep an emergency kit with warm clothes, blankets, flashlight and snacks in your vehicle in case you get stuck.
- Dress in layers if you must go out and limit time outdoors. The falling snow and whipping winds will result in frostbite and hypothermia if not properly protected.
- Avoid overexertion while shoveling heavy snow. Take breaks and stay hydrated. Watch for signs of heart attack and stroke.
- Generators should only be operated outdoors away from windows to avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use stoves or ovens to heat your home.
- Listen for emergency information and storm updates on radio, TV or your phone alerts. Follow advice from officials about travel restrictions, road closures and evacuations.
- Check on elderly or vulnerable neighbors to ensure they have what they need to ride out the storm safely. Clear snow from fire hydrants and storm drains near your home.
- If power goes out, do not run generators indoors or hook up directly to your home’s electrical system. Unplug appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
With proper preparation and precautions, the major Northeast winter storm can be weathered safely. But officials urge residents to take the threat seriously and adjust plans accordingly. The forecasts call for extremely hazardous conditions in New York City and other metro areas that will disrupt daily routines. By staying alert and being ready to adapt, the public can keep themselves and their families out of harm’s way.