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All (mostly) quiet on the western front: what the East Coast blizzard means for Buffalo's weekend

The delays and cancellations are starting to roll in on the boards at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The University at Buffalo is opening its dorms early to help those who want to escape the storm.

Amtrak already announced modifications to its service late Thursday afternoon.

And, its likely some state plow drivers and other personnel will be pulled downstate to assist with efforts, following Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's expected activation of the state Emergency Operations Center later today.

The massive snowstorm to turn nor'easter will start slamming the central Appalachians during the morning hours Friday, reaching the District of Columbia between 3 and 5 p.m., forecasters project. The storm system was strengthening in the Deep South late Thursday. It's expected to take an abrupt left turn and track northeast, impacting Philadelphia, New York City and maybe Boston as the weekend wears on.

As of 6:30 a.m. Friday, four flights from the airport had already been canceled - three to Charlotte, N.C., and one to Philadelphia. In terms of arrivals, one flight from Charlotte has already been canceled and another from Philadelphia has been delayed.

Weather-wise, Buffalo is in the clear on this one. Literally.

Forecasts call for partly sunny conditions today and Saturday with a mostly sunny Sunday as the Buffalo Niagara region falls out side of the track of the East Coast storm that's not expected to get any closer than about Scranton, Pa., forecasters in Buffalo said late Thursday.

"There's a ridge of high pressure on the north side that will give us a northeasterly wind," said Bill Hibbert, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo. "Temperatures will stay in the 20s. It will not be a warm sunshine."

As for any effects on the region from the nor'easter?

"There will be major impacts to (air) travel in the Buffalo area," Hibbert said.

A nor'easter is born. (NWS)

Another classic nor'easter is born. (NWS)

 

If you're traveling this weekend, here's what to expect where and when:

Washington D.C. (3 p.m. today to 6 a.m. Sunday)

Washington D.C. was under a blizzard warning from 3 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Sunday from the National Weather Service with eastern suburbs in Maryland expected to pick up 18 to 24 inches of snow and western suburbs in Virginia forecast to receive 24 to 30 inches of snow. The city of Washington was forecast to get about two feet even.

Wind gusts up to 55 mph are forecast during the storm.

So far this winter, the nation's capital has only picked up a single inch of snow. And, it only averages about 15 inches of snow for an entire winter season.

Snow picks up around mid-day on Friday in Washington and won't fully subside until early Sunday morning. (NWS)

Snow picks up around mid-day on Friday in Washington and won't fully subside until early Sunday morning. (NWS)

The March for Life, which attracts hundreds of thousands of pro-life protesters from across the country to the National Mall every Jan. 22,, "will go on no matter the weather," organizers announced on their website.

The Buffalo Catholic Diocese reported Thursday its contingent was dispatched toward the nation's capital for the event.

Click for storm coverage from The Washington Post

 

Philadelphia (7 p.m. today to 10 a.m. Sunday)

Saturday looks to be the worst weather day in the City of Brotherly Love.

A blizzard watch is posted from 7 p.m. tonight through 10 a.m. Sunday with up to 16 inches of snow forecast with frequent northeast wind gusts up to 40 mph, the weather service reported.

NOAA's Global Forecast System model shows that 30 inches of snow could fall in areas of southeastern Pennsylvania between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday. (StormVistaWxModels.com)

NOAA's Global Forecast System model shows that 30 inches of snow could fall in areas of southeastern Pennsylvania between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday. (StormVistaWxModels.com)

Click for storm coverage from the Philadelphia Inquirer

 

New York City (6 a.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday)

A blizzard watch was also posted for the five boroughs of the Big Apple for the weekend. Coastal areas of New Jersey and Long Island were also included, according to the National Weather Service.

Heavy snow with up to 10 inches of accumulation and wind gusts up to 50 mph were forecast Saturday and Sunday, the weather service in New York City reported in an urgent message posted Thursday afternoon.

Gov. Cuomo was sounding the alarm for downstate residents Thursday as well.

cuomoNYCstorm012216

The timing of the storm - along with high tide and full moon phase Sunday - may exacerbate the problem along the East Coast, especially around New York City.

Besides the blizzard watch, the weather service also announced the potential for "widespread moderate coastal flooding" late Saturday with tides up 3 to 4 feet above normal in those areas.

The New York City Parks Department cancelled its weekend Winter Jam in Central Park because of the impending blizzard.

That announcement garnered at least one pat on Buffalo's back from a New York City-based public relations agency:

Click for storm coverage from the New York Times

 

Boston (watches and warnings to be announced, if necessary)

The severity of the storm for New England residents was not as well established overnight Thursday.

Mainly, it depends on the track of the storm as it progresses east and north, according to the National Weather Service.

New England may escape the brunt of the storm if its center moves further off-shore, forecasters said.

The Boston Globe reported that it's possible that metro Boston only receives an inch of snow when all's said and done.

That could become clearer later today.

National Weather Service message from Thursday.

National Weather Service message Thursday.

Click for storm coverage from the Boston Globe

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