Northeast braces for blizzard; 1 to 3 feet of snow feared
BY JAY LINDSAY Associated Press
Saturday, February 09, 2013
2/09/13 at 6:09 AM
BOSTON - A storm that forecasters warned could be a blizzard for the history books began clobbering the New York-to-Boston corridor on Friday, grounding flights, sending office workers home early and knocking out power to half a million customers across the Northeast.
From New Jersey to Maine, shoppers crowded into supermarkets and hardware stores to buy food, snow shovels, flashlights and generators. Others gassed up their cars, another lesson learned all too well after Sandy. Across much of New England, schools closed well ahead of the first snowflakes.
"This is a storm of major proportions," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said. "Stay off the roads. Stay home."
By Friday night, more than 18.5 inches of snow had fallen in parts of central Connecticut, and more than 16 inches covered parts of Mansfield, Mass., a half-hour drive southwest of Boston.
And the National Weather Service warned the worst was still to come.
The wind-whipped snowstorm mercifully arrived at the start of a weekend, which meant fewer cars on the road and extra time for sanitation crews to clear the mess before commuters in the region of roughly 25 million people have to go back to work.
Rainy Neves, a mother of two in Cambridge, just west of Boston, did some last-minute grocery shopping, filling her cart to the brim.
"Honestly, a lot of junk - a lot of quick things you can make just in case lights go out, a lot of snacks to keep the kids busy while they'd be inside during the storm, things to sip with my friends, things for movies," she said. "Just a whole bunch of things to keep us entertained."
In heavily Catholic Boston, the archdiocese urged parishioners to be prudent about attending Sunday Mass.
The National Weather Service said Boston could get close to 3 feet of snow by Saturday evening, while most of Rhode Island could receive more than 2 feet, most of it falling overnight Friday into Saturday. Connecticut was bracing for 2 feet, and New York City was expecting as much as 14 inches.
Forecasters said wind gusts up to 75 mph could cause more widespread power outages and whip the snow into fearsome drifts. Flooding was expected along coastal areas still recovering from superstorm Sandy.
Amtrak stopped running trains in cities around the Northeast on Friday afternoon. Airlines canceled more than 4,300 flights through Saturday, and New York City's three major airports and Boston's Logan Airport shut down.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick enacted a statewide driving ban for the first time since the Blizzard of 1978.
Original Print Headline: Northeast braces for massive blizzard
Believe what you hear Â– this storm is a bad one
WASHINGTON (AP) - The new director of the National Weather Service says some may be getting carried away in describing the winter storm bearing down on the Northeast. But he says the science is simple and chilling.
Louis Uccellini is an expert on snowstorms. He says meteorologists are telling people that this is a dangerous storm because it is.
Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground, said the storm deserves the attention it's getting. "This is a serious life-threatening storm if you're trying to travel in it and (get) stuck."
One of the big differences between this one and the 1978 blizzard is that back then, it caught people by surprise, leaving many stranded on the highways, said Keith Seitter of the Boston-based American Meteorological Society. This time preventive steps, like an early order for people to be off Massachusetts roads before dark, should save lives and make road-clearing easier, experts said.
Snowbound MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel adds that extreme weather like this fascinates everyone. " There are people glued to The Weather Channel," he said.
Riders wait in a bus stop where color-tinted windows collect snow during a storm on Friday in Portland, Maine. The National Weather Service forecast calls for as much as 3 feet of snow and winds gusting to 50 mph or higher in some locations. ROBERT F. BUKATY/Associated Press