More than 50 million Americans from the Mid-Atlantic to northern New England are preparing for a major winter storm that could bring the biggest snowfall in years to New York City.
The five boroughs could see more than a foot of snow fall in just 24 hours, with Mayor Bill de Blasio warning New Yorkers to take the storm seriously.
“We haven’t had many storms like this in recent years, thank goodness. We have seen much less snow fall than a few years ago, ”the mayor said Tuesday. “So this could be the biggest storm in several years.”
The great nor’easter could dump at least ten to six inches of snow over an area stretching from Maine to Virginia and far into Ohio.
The most severe snow build-up will cover large areas of eastern Pennsylvania and the Hudson Valley, totals up to two feet.
The governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey have declared a state of emergency and told residents to stay home if possible. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expects to do the same for the districts north of New York City from 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
The storm’s rapid pace will allow it to cross the Interstate-95 corridor in just 24 hours, but it will still drop two to three inches of snow per hour in places.
There is a widespread threat of power outages in northern New Jersey, the suburbs of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
In New York City, the mayor has said that with the advent of distance learning during the pandemic, there would be no snow day for the students in the city’s public schools, but that in-person classes will likely be suspended on Thursdays.
Testing for Covid-19 in city clinics will be halted for approximately 24 hours, but the mayor said the storm will not affect the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine.
In blizzard-like conditions, people have been asked to avoid driving if possible.
The storm is yet another blow to the city’s restaurants that will suspend outdoor dining for the duration, just two days after losing permission to serve diners indoors at 25 percent capacity, due to rising instances of Covid. 19.
With so many restaurants building shelters for dining on the sidewalks and parking lots in all weather, there is concern about whether they will affect snow removal. Owners have been instructed to remove all furniture and equipment and minimize their footprint where possible.
The city tried to reassure owners that the sanitation department, which is responsible for snow removal, has a variety of equipment and has planned ahead to map where these structures obstruct the roadway.
In January 2016, snow accumulation of 27.5 inches was recorded in Central Park and New York, nearing a halt, with many subway services suspended and private vehicles banned from the street as snow plows fought to keep the roads clear.
Despite all the experience the city has dealing with winter storms, sometimes timing can be everything.
When six inches of snow fell just before the evening rush hour on November 15, 2018, New York City and northern New Jersey were paralyzed by falling trees, car accidents, and stalled traffic that prevented snow plows from doing their job.