Millions across the Northeast are waking up Monday to the year’s first major winter storm with up to 2 feet of snow projected and blizzard-like conditions expected across the region.
The National Weather Service warned that widespread heavy snow of 1 to 2 feet is forecast from Pennsylvania into New England including Philadelphia, New York City and Boston through Tuesday, with snowfall rates reaching up to three inches an hour and wind gusts peaking as high as 60 mph.
- As of Monday morning, the nor’easter has pelted Chicago with about 11 inches of snow; Washington, D.C., with 2.3 inches; Philadelphia with 3.4 inches; and New York City with 3.5 inches.
- A vast number of flights have been suspended at major airports, including all flights at LaGuardia Airport and about 75 percent of flights at Newark Liberty International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.
- Many Covid-19 vaccination appointments were cancelled and rescheduled in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York City.
NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins said the tristate area could see its biggest snowstorm in five years, while New York City could get between 12 and 18 inches of snow, with up to 20 inches possible if one of the heavy snow bands sits over the city Monday afternoon.
Karins said the National Weather Service’s New York office forecast has called for 21 inches in Central Park, which would tie it for the fourth largest snowstorm in New York City’s history.
Periods of light snow will continue on and off through early Tuesday, he added.
The National Weather Service warned that travel conditions will be “difficult to impossible” across the northeast.
The Maryland State Patrol said Monday morning they answered almost 900 calls and responded to 330 crashes and about 150 disabled or unattended vehicles on Sunday. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said during a Monday news conference that state troopers have responded to 340 accidents and 295 motorist aid calls.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a Monday press conference that the city has a “big challenge on our hands.”
“Blizzard conditions, stay off the roads, stay off the streets,” de Blasio said. “We do not want any non-essential traveling going on.”
The mayor said schools would be closed on Monday and Tuesday, but are expected to reopen on Wednesday. He added that health officials are rescheduling appointments for coronavirus vaccinations on Monday and Tuesday.
“The last thing we want to do is urge our seniors to come out in the middle of a storm like this,” de Blasio said on Sunday, warning residents not to underestimate weather conditions.
The mayor tweeted on Sunday that nonessential travel will be restricted in New York City starting at 6 a.m. Monday as part of a local state of emergency.
“This winter storm will be dangerous with heavy snowfall and strong winds,” de Blasio said. “If you can stay home, stay home.”
Among other states that closed major coronavirus vaccination sites are Rhode Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
All flights at LaGuardia Airport were cancelled on Monday. The John F. Kennedy Airport and the Newark Liberty International Airport have canceled a total of more than 300 flights, or about 75 percent.
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The storm had already blanketed parts of the Midwest in the most snow some places had seen in several years. Chicago got almost 11 inches of snow by Monday morning. In Wisconsin, snow depths in some counties near Lake Michigan had reached more than 15 inches.
A video showed the second largest Great Lake impressively frozen over with a coat of snow on Monday.
Snow also hit the Washington metropolitan area, with over two inches reported in several areas, but another round of snow is possible Monday morning. The city’s inclement weather prompted President Joe Biden to postpone a visit to the State Department that had been planned for Monday, a White House official told NBC News.
While people in affected areas were advised to remain indoors and avoid traveling, the giant pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., took full advantage of the winter wonderland and were captured on camera frolicking in the snow.