Major blizzard may dump 2 feet of snow

BOSTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) --
A major high-wind blizzard threatened to dump up to 2 feet of snow on the U.S. Northeast Friday, disrupting travel, closing schools and knocking out power.

"Accumulation is expected to be swift, heavy and dangerous," Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said in a Statehouse briefing Thursday evening.

He urged non-emergency drivers to be off the roads by noon, said non-emergency state employees would work from home and advised private employers to let their staffs do the same.

Winter weather warnings, and in some cases blizzard warnings, were in effect from Pennsylvania through New Jersey and metropolitan New York and up through Maine, the National Weather Service said.

"A major winter storm is expected to impact the Northeast and New England Friday into Saturday," the service said in a statement that called the storm "potentially historic."

"As much as one to 2 feet of snow is forecast from the New York City metro area to Maine, with localized heavier amounts possible," the statement said. "This, in addition to wind gusts as high as 60-75 mph, will create significant impacts to transportation and power. Coastal flooding is also possible from Boston northward."

Storm surges in coastal areas were predicted to be 3 to 5 feet, weather officials said.

At the storm's height, snow could fall at 2 to 4 inches an hour and may be accompanied by thunder and lightning, AccuWeather said.

Patrick called up some 500 National Guard members to assist during the blizzard, bringing the total available to some 6,000.

New England was expected to bear the nor'easter's brunt, but up to 20 inches of snow was expected in the New York City area, where some communities are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, which hit Oct. 29, 2012.

On Long Island, where forecasts estimated snow accumulations topping 18 inches, the power company, which received heavy criticism for its Sandy response, vowed it was prepared.

States and municipalities mobilized thousands of plows, salt trucks and other equipment from Pennsylvania and New Jersey 900 miles northward to Maine.

Schools in Boston, Providence, R.I., and other cities announced they would be closed.

Highways in New York's Hudson Valley, north of New York City, also might be closed to traffic due to snow accumulation possibly made worse by blowing and drifting snow, state police said.

Airlines, Amtrak, commuter trains, subways and bus lines canceled service throughout much of New England and parts of New York in anticipation of the blizzard.

Some forecasters said the storm could rival the blizzard of Feb. 6-7, 1978, when more than 27 inches of snow fell in Boston and other parts of New England.

During that catastrophic and historic nor'easter, many homes along the New England and Long Island coastlines were destroyed or washed into the ocean. The storm killed an estimated 100 people and caused $2 billion in damages in today's dollars.

The Weather Channel named Friday's storm Nemo, but the National Weather Service declined to give it a name.

"We never have, nor do we have any plans to consider naming winter storms," a weather service spokesman told The New York Times.


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