(Photo: Reuters/Handout via NOAA)
Winter storm "Hercules" is set to hit the Northeast and Midwest regions on Thursday, threatening to affect 100 million people, dump over a foot of snow and possibly make travel "impossible."
"Roads will be snow covered and slippery today. Conditions will rapidly deteriorate tonight as snow becomes heavier and the winds increase," an official blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service on Thursday morning read. "This will result in blizzard conditions and times tonight into Friday morning. Whiteout conditions are possible and travel may become impossible at times. Dangerously cold wind chills will also develop Friday morning."
The weather service adds that travel will be "extremely dangerous" due to whiteout conditions, and advises people not to travel, but to bring with them a winter survival kit if they do.
The Weather Channel reports that "Hercules" will pull eastward Thursday through the Ohio Valley, reaching eastern Missouri through downstate Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and northern Tennessee.
"It's going to be a long-duration event," said Michael Palmer, lead meteorologist at TWC, according to NBC News. "The wind is going to whip around the snow and reduce the visibility, creating near-blizzard conditions in Boston, much of Connecticut and then down maybe as far south as New Jersey and even New York City."
New York, northern Pennsylvania and the New England states will receive light-moderate snow on Thursday. The storm will move northeast from West Virginia and Maryland to southern Maine. The snow is expected to be dry and powdery because of the low temperatures in the teens and 20s.
David Epstein, a meteorologist in Maine, wrote in the Portland Press Herald on Thursday that the saying "it's too cold for snow" won't apply for Thursday and Friday.
"Temperatures for much of this storm will be in the single numbers and this will create a snow that is as light as you will ever see in this part of the world. You should be able to actually use a push broom to move the snow if you would like," Epstein said.
"Hercules" is expected to leave the East Coast by Friday afternoon, but major flight delays and challenging driving conditions are expected from late Thursday into early Friday.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned people on Wednesday to prepare for closed roads and to take mass transit instead.
"Knowing the potential impact of this winter storm, combined with plummeting temperatures, I have activated the Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts," Cuomo said in a statement .
"Blowing, drifting snow can make travel difficult and dangerous, so I urge citizens to exercise caution if they have to leave their homes. We recommend that everyone in potentially affected areas utilize mass transit and take steps to safeguard against frigid temperatures. Keep a close eye on the weather, follow any instructions issued by local emergency officials, and check on your neighbors and family members."
The storm is also likely to cause coastal flooding on the east coast of New England, including beach erosion and freezing spray from breaking waves.