A massive and dangerous winter storm is expected to hit the Northeast Monday, bringing the season's biggest snowstorm with up to 24 inches across parts of New York and New Jersey and threatening to shut down travel from Washington, D.C., to New York City and Boston.
The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., where the storm could dump a foot of snow.
A blizzard watch has also been issued from New York City and Long Island to southern Connecticut, southern Rhode Island and portions of southeastern Massachusetts, including Boston.
Snow is expected to start developing Monday night in the mid-Atlantic region as the coastal low from Stella develops and intensifies, according to the Weather Channel. The snow could be heavy at times overnight with rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour, and by late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, it may develop as far north as New York City or southern New England, the channel said, adding that light to moderate snow will also impact the eastern Great Lakes region.
For many parts of the Northeast, this will likely be the biggest and most impactful storm of the winter.
"I encourage all New Yorkers in affected regions to plan ahead, and avoid any unnecessary travel as the storm progresses," New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
How much snow is dumped in Washington cannot be said with any certainty, as the region is predicted to lie on the edge of the storm's sweet spot, and slight changes in how it develops and moves could be the difference between a bust and a blockbuster, The Washington Post said, adding that snow is expected to begin between 5 and 8 p.m. Monday and should taper off Tuesday morning.
"A lot would really have to go wrong, so to speak, for this system to not deliver a ferocious punch," Tom Kines, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather, told USA TODAY. "The reality is we are just hemming and hawing over snow amounts. Who gets 6, 12 or even 18."
Flight delays and cancellations are expected across much of the nation given that airport disruptions are likely in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. "Anybody looking to travel on Tuesday, whether by land or air, will find it difficult or impossible in many places," Kines added.
Some flights have already been canceled in advance of the storm.
"Residents should prepare for school closures and potential cancellations of sporting events due to hazardous travel for players and fans," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.
Wind gusts are likely to top 40 mph at the height of the storm, creating blizzard conditions and possibly breaking tree limbs and threatening sporadic power outages.
The New York metro area and other regions facing a blizzard watch could experience stronger wind, with gusts of up to 60 miles per hour forecast on Long Island and in parts of southeastern Connecticut, according to The New York Times.
The storm may also cause coastal flooding from the Delmarva peninsula and Jersey Shore to Long Island, Cape Cod and the islands Tuesday as strong, potentially damaging winds from the south and east push water ashore in those areas, the Weather Channel said. Tides on Tuesday may run 2 to 3 feet above average and coastal erosion is likely.