After a short night of restless sleep, it appears that forecasters are still predicting the end of the world in the Northeast this evening. If you haven't panicked yet, you have several hours to do so before it's too late. Hug your children. Hoard booze. This is not a drill. Here's what you need to know to make it through the storm.
Today: Snow will likely fall lightly throughout the Northeast this morning, building in the afternoon to accumulations of one to three inches by early evening and wind gusts as high as 30 miles per hour.
Tonight: The heaviest snowfall and strongest wind will likely begin tonight, accumulating a foot or more of snow in New York City at a rate of two to three inches an hour, with accompanying winds of up to 40 miles per hour.
Tomorrow: Heavy snowfall could continue all the way through Tuesday, accumulating another foot of snow in New York City and north. By Tuesday the Northeast might be buried in record snowfalls—as much as three feet in Boston, two feet in New York, and a foot in Philadelphia.
Blizzard warnings are in effect from the eastern coast of New Jersey through Maine, with all of the major cities (Newark, New York City, Hartford, Providence, Boston, Portland).
A blizzard occurs when sustained winds of 35 MPH or greater create blowing snow that drops visibility down to one-quarter of a mile or less, for three consecutive hours. A blizzard is essentially a sustained whiteout that can be disorienting and lethal if you're caught outside unprotected and unprepared.
There are so many warnings and advisories in effect that it would be impossible to list them all. You can see a map and a full, current list at weather.gov.
- New York City: 18-24 inches
- Boston: 24-36 inches
- Providence: 24-36 inches
- Philadelphia: 10-14 inches.
The NWS still expects a huge swath of 20 to 30+ inches of snow from New Jersey through Massachusetts and up into Maine, with the heaviest snowfall totals likely falling along a stretch from northeastern CT and RI up into eastern Massachusetts. If predictions hold true, it wouldn't be out of the question for someone in eastern Mass. to hit three feet with this storm.
Here's a closer look at the very heavily populated stretch of land from Newark to Boston:
Now, The Weather Channel—which is going wall-to-wall for the duration of this storm, and is streaming its broadcast live on weather dot com—is surprisingly conservative on accumulations this time around (the NWS is usually the conservative one), predicting around 18" in NYC and "two feet or more" in eastern Massachusetts around Boston.
New York City public schools are open today, though after-school programs are cancelled; many other area schools are closed. Tomorrow, school will be closed, unless you live in that one district that just refuses to close; in that case, you'll have a two-hour delay and deal with it.
Airport Delays and Cancellations
All United flights from Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, Logan, and Philadelphia on Tuesday have been cancelled. Even Wednesday will still be a pain.
How the Storm Might Change
As I mentioned yesterday and every time we deal with a nor'easter, there is an ugly bust potential whenever we have this kind of a storm. A small jog to the east in track will pull the heaviest snows east, which could result in dramatically lower accumulations in places like central New Jersey and the New York City metro area. Last night's European model brings the low closer to land, which produces heavier snow over more people, while the GFS pulls the low a little bit farther east—bringing the snow a little farther east, too.
Now, the difference between a foot of snow and a foot-and-a-half of snow is negligible when you can't drive or walk in either, and the winds are still going to allow conditions to reach blizzard intensity for several hours tonight and tomorrow morning. Prepare for and expect the worst from this storm, but keep in mind that any change in track will likely result in lower snowfall totals.
You need to be prepared for extended power outages as a result of the wind and weight of the snow on lines and trees. Make sure you have enough non-perishable food and water to last you and your household moochers...er, family...at least a couple of days. Make sure you have prescription medication, gas in your car, cash (cards do you no good if the power is out), and enough blankets to keep your warm through the cold winter. Fill your bathtub and buckets with water so you can wash your hands and flush your toilets as needed.
Don't use generators or grills indoors, as that's the best way to die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, it sounds patronizing to say, but don't leave candles unattended, especially if they're free-standing candles and not jar candles (where the flame is partially enclosed by glass).
Winter storms are not named. The Weather Channel assigns names to winter storms as part of a social media marketing campaign. When you mention "Juno," you're participating in the proliferation of Big Weather. Think before you hashtag.
The only acceptable names for this storm are "Blizzard of 2015, "Thanks Obama," and "UGH."
New York City might see a top-ten snowfall event out of this storm. Here are the top-ten snowstorms recorded in New York City (Central Park) since the station began operating in the late 1800s (snowfall totals are under "Value," in inches):
Take it easy and be careful shoveling and removing the snow tomorrow. Even though the snow won't be as heavy as it is in warmer storms, you can still injure or heart attack yourself if you strain too hard while shoveling or using a snow blower.
The Vane will feature another post on the Winter Storm Thanks Obama later tonight. Stay warm.
[Images: Tropical Tidbits, NWS, xmACIS2]