Potential hurricane-force winds and more than a foot of snow are predicted in parts of the Northeast on Thursday as 2018′s first major winter storm barrels up the coast.
In Boston, where a blizzard warning was in effect until Thursday evening, the city braced for 8 to 14 inches of snow, the National Weather Service said.
From eastern Massachusetts to southern Rhode Island, wind gusts are expected to reach up to 65 mph, causing whiteout conditions and significant snow drifts. Temperatures Friday morning are forecast to dip below zero, and wind chills may make it feel 20 below zero. Such temperatures can cause frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes, the weather service warned.
The National Weather Service said on Twitter Thursday that it had received reports of “thundersnow” and blizzard conditions in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Some areas across southeast New England have also already seen 8 inches of snow, and the white stuff was falling at a rate of 2 inches to 3 inches per hour.
The brutal storm has led to the cancelation of roughly 3,000 airline flights ahead of the storm’s arrival, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.
Affected airports include Boston’s Logan International, which has seen more than 680 flights canceled, Philadelphia International Airport, and airports in and around New York City, including New Jersey’s Newark International Airport.
Schools have also been ordered to close in New York, parts of New Jersey, Boston, and other cities through the region.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned of blizzard-like conditions on Thursday morning on Twitter, and said the city could see as much as 9 to 12 inches of snow. The wind chill in the city on Friday morning is expected to be around negative 20 degrees, he added.
“These are tough conditions to move around in, so if you don’t need to be on the road … you shouldn’t,” de Blasio said. “Everyone needs to take this weather very seriously.”
The rough weather has also been blamed for hundreds of traffic crashes.
In Virginia, where a state of emergency has been declared ahead of the storm’s arrival, state troopers have responded to more than 200 traffic crashes since Wednesday night, Richmond station WTVR reported. No fatalities were reported.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and other officials up and down the coast urged drivers to stay off the roads.
The powerful winter storm, dubbed “Grayson” by the Weather Channel, has been described by weather forecasters as a “bomb cyclone,” as it resulted from a rapid and rare plunge in barometric pressure.
On Wednesday, the storm brought snow to parts of northern Florida for the first time in 30 years.