More than 90 million people across the Midwest and Northeast were
bracing for a major snowstorm and blizzard-like conditions, followed by
dangerous cold that could sap the melting power of salt and threaten
"It's going to be brutal," Weather Channel coordinating
meteorologist Tom Moore said of the expected sub-zero temperatures.
"People that are vulnerable are really going to be hurting."
the immediate focus was on snow - with up to 10 inches possible in New
York City, possibly 18 inches burying New England, and more than 1,800 flights canceled - the cold behind the snowstorm could be crippling.
The high temperature in New York City will be in the teens on Friday
during the day and drop to between 5 and 8 degrees in the evening, with
the wind chill making it feel well below zero. Lows in Boston will be
below zero. Maine could see the mercury drop to minus 30 after dark.
is a very, very dangerous set of circumstances," Massachusetts Gov.
Deval Patrick said. He dismissed all state workers at 3 p.m. and urged
residents to minimize time outside and be aware of frostbite and
"I think I'm more concerned about the
terrible cold Friday night rather than the storm itself," David Ball of
Scituate, Mass., which was facing coastal flooding, told NBC affiliate WHDH. "Hopefully the power stays on."
second wave of icy weather will hit the nation's midsection by late
Sunday, stretching from the upper Midwest to Kentucky and Tennessee,
Chicago will struggle to get above minus 8 and by Monday morning the wind will make it feel like it's 40 below zero there.
In Green Bay, Wis., where the Packers host an NFL playoff game Sunday evening, the low temperature could reach minus 18.
"Even Atlanta's northern suburbs could be in single digits by Monday night," Moore said.
Larry Wittmers, a hypothermia expert at the University of
Minnesota-Duluth medical school, said it's not necessarily the coldest
areas that face the most peril.
"True hypothermia cases turn up
more often in more southern regions because people are not prepared and
don't know what to do," Wittmers said.
How long people can safely
spend outside depends on how wet or windy it is and how they are
dressed, Wittmer said. Shoveling snow or other exercise can be dangerous
because sweat reduces the insulation capability of clothing, and
consuming alcohol can speed heat loss and reduce awareness of the cold.
even though record snowfall is not expected, the cold could make roads
even more hazardous because the snow-melting homeowners and road crews
use loses effectiveness at between 10 and 20 degrees.
Winter storm warnings and advisories were in effect in 22 states,
stretched from Chicago through the New York tri-state region into New
England and affecting an area home to more than 90 million people.
Snow began to fall in Boston, the first major city on the East Coast to be hit, at around 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday.
"It's going to be a long-duration event," said Michael Palmer, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel.
"The wind is going to whip around the snow and reduce the visibility,
creating near-blizzard conditions in Boston, much of Connecticut and
then down maybe as far south as New Jersey and even New York City."
National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning on Long Island in
New York beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, predicting inch-an-hour snow with
45 mph winds during the worst of it Thursday night. Blizzard conditions
also are warned for Cape Cod and coastal Massachusetts.
Gov. Patrick said that storm models were showing heavy bands that
could sock some communities with up to 2 feet of snow, depending on wind
drifts, while the rest of the state was anticipating 8 to 10 inches.
In New York City, the administration of newly minted Mayor Bill
DeBlasio said it would do its best to keep outdoor subway, Long Island
Rail Road and Metro-North trains moving, calling out the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority's ice-busting equipment.
Bus riders might not be so lucky: If roads become impassable, bus service will be suspended, the MTA said.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino - in his last official act in office -
pre-emptively declared a snow emergency for Thursday and closed the
city's schools Friday as weather models pointed to up to 18 inches of
"What a New Year's gift, to receive one last snowstorm as mayor," Menino said Wednesday.
was also predicted to get a 12- to 18-inch wallop, and accumulations of
8 to 12 inches were expected in areas of Vermont, New Hampshire and
What changed the forecast so drastically from Tuesday, when meteorologists said the storm wouldn't be a big deal, was the expected convergence of three separate low pressure systems roaring in from the south and the east.
hauling warm, wet air on a course straight for the frigid Northeast,
said Greg Postrel, a forecaster for The Weather Channel.
setting up for a big snowstorm for New England," Postrel said - "big" as
in near-zero visibility and howling winds with wind chills well below
By M. Alex Johnson and Tracy Connor, NBC News