(Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)
A potentially historic winter storm, dubbed "Nemo," brought heavy snow and damaging winds to the Northeast, leaving at least one person dead and tens of thousands without power on Friday. But the worst is expected on Saturday with 40 million residents in its path.
More than 600,000 homes and businesses lost electricity, mostly in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, by early Saturday, as snow, rain and winds caused havoc in the region.
The National Weather Service says the storm – the convergence of two storms, an Alberta Clipper from the west and a storm from the south – may drop up to 20 inches of snow across eastern Long Island and Connecticut, and as much as 30 inches in Boston and Providence, R.I., by Saturday night. Winds are expected to gust as high as 60 miles an hour or more across a large part of the Northeast.
Five states – New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island – declared states of emergency, after the storm slammed the region on Friday. The storm was dubbed "Nemo" by the Weather Channel.
It caused hundreds of crashes and slide offs on the roads across the region on Friday, according to AccuWeather.com. Road travel was soon restricted in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, as a result.
At least 4,700 flights were canceled, with Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey being the most affected, according to FlightAware.com. Amtrak also suspended southbound service out of Boston and northbound service out of New York City.
Police in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said one person died in a storm-related vehicle accident there, according to CNN.
"Conditions are not good for travel in any shape or form," Bloomberg.com quoted Kerry Schwindenhammer, senior meteorologist at Accuweather Inc., as saying. "We'd recommend people not even try. This is going to be a historic storm. There will be heavy snow, and there will be blizzard conditions, and that's going to cause some damage."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged everyone to "stay in your homes while the worst of the storm is upon us." Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino said the city has 34,000 pounds of salt to treat icy roads. "Stay off the roads. Stay home. Let the public works crews do their jobs."
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said, "People need to take this storm seriously. Please stay home once the weather gets bad except in the case of real emergency." New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie alerted on Twitter that more than 2,000 snow plows and salt-spreader trucks were prepared in the state.
Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick said, "I want to be clear – 2 or 3 feet of snow in this period of time is a profoundly different type of storm than we've had to deal with."
The Salvation Army declared in a statement it has prepared emergency relief units to respond with food, shelter, emotional care and material assistance.
"We have been monitoring Winter Storm Nemo closely and are taking the storm very seriously," said Major Ron Busroe, National Community Relations and Development Secretary for The Salvation Army. "This storm comes 100 days after Hurricane Sandy and we are particularly aware of the people who are still rebuilding their lives after that storm. In addition to our existing local service capability, we have positioned emergency disaster relief teams throughout the region to provide food and shelter to people."
Since individuals and families still without their homes following Hurricane Sandy could experience severe impacts from the blizzard, the evangelical ministry said it was prepared to provide additional support to them. The Salvation Army also has shelter trailers positioned in the impacted areas, each with 100 cots and blankets prepared to deploy and provide people a place to stay warm and sleep, according to the statement.
The winter storm comes days after the 35th anniversary of the "Blizzard of '78," which dumped a then-record 27.1 inches of snow in Boston, leaving thousands of motorists stranded.