NEW YORK – A possibly historic storm could bring blizzard conditions to New York City and large parts of the Northeast while dropping more than a foot of snow across New Jersey and Long Island and as much as 2 feet through eastern New England, including Boston, threatening travel delays, school cancellations and blackouts.
Snow and rain was to begin Sunday night in Mid-Atlantic states, where Baltimore and Washington may get as much as 6 inches, according to the National Weather Service. The storm will then strengthen rapidly and bring its heaviest amounts from New York into New England.
“We expect to have a serious problem on our hands,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Sunday. “We are facing one of the largest snow storms in recorded history of this city.”
All city agencies were on high alert as New York sanitation workers scrambled to maintain 6,000 miles of road, de Blasio said. He said residents should stay home Monday or leave work early if possible as forecasts call for between 2 and 3 feet of snow.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will bring on extra personnel who will work 12-hour shifts as it prepares to maintain operations at its airports, tunnels, bridges and train systems, according to an e-mailed statement.
New York City schools will be open Monday with anticipated closures on Tuesday, de Blasio said. Alternate side of street parking will be canceled. The biggest snowstorm in the city’s history was in February 2006, when 26.9 inches fell.
In addition to the blizzard watches, which have also been posted for along New Jersey’s coast into New England, including New York City, winter storm warnings, watches and advisories stretch from central Indiana to Maine, the weather service said. The storm system will strike one of the most densely populated parts of the country that contains hubs for road, rail and air transportation.
“The system will deepen rapidly Monday through Tuesday,” said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Md. “There are some blizzard watches on Long Island and eastern Massachusetts; that is because not only is heavy snow forecast but the wind is going to pick up.”
At least seven major airports, including Newark Liberty International and New York’s LaGuardia Airport, are in the path of the storm and Amtrak’s Acela service, along with regional commuter rail operations, will be affected. Interstate 95 parallels the U.S. East Coast from Maine to Florida.
New York City has an estimated population of 8.4 million and Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island have about 2.9 million residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city has a 70 percent chance of getting more than 8 inches of snow and a 55 percent chance of receiving greater than a foot, the weather service said.
The greatest impact on Boston commuter rail and rapid transit will probably occur on Tuesday, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said on its website. The transit authority may reduce its schedules at the height of the storm.
A high wind watch has also been posted for Cape Cod. Gusts may reach 70 miles per hour, with sustained winds holding at 45 mph during the storm, the weather service said.
“Powerful winds may result in downed trees and power outages,” the weather service said. “This is especially true where heavy wet snow accumulates adding to the potential for wind damage.”
As much as 18 to 24 inches are expected in a corridor from Providence, R.I., to Boston, the weather service said. Northern and coastal New Jersey may get 10 to 14 inches, while eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, could see 6 to 8 inches.
Through most of January, the Northeast U.S. has been spared any major snowstorms. A small system moved through during Saturday.
“As dull has it had been for the Eastern Seaboard for the last couple of weeks that is going to change,” Hurley said.