BOSTON (AP) — Residents and officials in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States were preparing for a powerful winter storm that is expected to produce blizzard conditions Friday and Saturday.
Heavy snowfall and high winds are expected to begin in parts of the Carolinas and Appalachia Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
The system will then intensify as a northeasterly and bring snowy conditions to the New England east coast, where forecasters have warned of localized snowfall totals of up to 20 inches and wind gusts of 50 at 60 mph.
Local officials rushed to declare snow emergencies and impose parking bans on Friday, warning that windblown snow could make getting around nearly impossible and colder temperatures could mean dangerous wind chills after the passage of the storm on Saturday evening.
In Virginia, where a blizzard earlier this month stranded hundreds of motorists along a major interstate highway for hours, Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency and said authorities had already begun to position its resources in anticipation of downed trees, power outages and major events. impact on travel.
The state’s east coast faced blizzard conditions that could bring winds up to 50 mph, up to a foot of heavy wet snow and possibly tidal flooding.
“The key message for all Virginians is to stay aware of weather conditions and stay off the roads if possible,” the governor said.
Similar snowfall projections were expected on the coast to the Philadelphia and New York areas, with seaside communities from the Jersey Shore to suburban Long Island and southeastern Connecticut potentially experiencing higher snowfall rates. heavier snowfalls and stronger winds.
In Ocean City, New Jersey, Mayor Jay Gillian preemptively addressed a persistent pet peeve of snow-bound homeowners: snowplow trucks burying driveways residents had just dug.
“Snowplows can’t work without creating snowbanks,” he said dryly in a post on the city’s website. “You may need to clear your driveway or parked vehicle more than once.”
Airlines braced for the highest total of single-day cancellations in three weeks. As of midday, airlines had canceled more than 1,000 flights in the United States, and they had already canceled about 2,500 scheduled for Saturday, according to the tracking service FlightAware. The hardest hit airports are those in Chicago, the New York area and Boston.
In New England, where isolated bands of snow could dump nearly 3 feet (1 meter) in spots, the inevitable rush to clear shelves for bread, eggs, milk and other vittles at grocery stores was well under way on Friday.
Merrick McCormack, 51, of Cranston, Rhode Island, was among hundreds of people who packed a Shaw supermarket in nearby Warwick for last-minute items.
With the entire state under a blizzard warning, state officials mobilized more than 500 snowplows and Governor Daniel McKee canceled a planned trip to Washington, D.C.
“I don’t care about storms. I know that in a few days we will be free and clear. No need to panic,” McCormack said, displaying a certain New England stoicism as he unloaded his groceries.
Regional supermarket giant Stop & Shop has pleaded with customers to exercise restraint, warning that staffing and supply issues caused by the global pandemic will result in emptier shelves and longer queues .
“We’re asking shoppers to buy what they need and save it for their neighbors,” the Quincy, Mass.-based grocery chain said in a statement. “Supply chain and labor challenges as a result of COVID-19 have made product availability more difficult than usual.”
At Maine Hardware in Portland, a steady stream of customers stocked up on storm essentials on Friday as officials took the rare step of issuing a blizzard warning.
Store president Rick Tucker said people were buying generators, snowblowers, shovels, ice melt, sand, heaters, batteries and lanterns.
“Looks like it’s going to be big,” he said. “We haven’t had one for a while. It’s gonna be fun.”