A fast-moving winter storm that pummeled parts of Kentucky and Virginia is expected to cause widespread disruption across the Northeast on Friday and Saturday, dumping between 4-12 inches of snow in the major cities.
Over 60 million people are under winter weather alerts and local officials have taken pre-emptive measures to prepare the densely populated region, including shutting government offices and ordering school closures.
The forecast calls for as much as 12 inches of snow in Boston, with 4-6 inches in Washington DC, 3-5 inches in New York City and up to 4 inches in Philadelphia, according to CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford.
In Connecticut, all executive branch state office buildings will be closed Friday and non-essential employees are being asked to work remotely.
“This appears to be a significant winter storm that is about to impact our state, with snowfall anticipated to reach rates of more than one inch per hour causing whiteout conditions and happening right at the height of the morning rush hour,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement.
He also encouraged people not to venture onto roads if possible.
New York City has activated its winter weather plan with 330,000 tons of salt, over 700 salt spreaders and over 1,600 plow vehicles on standby, while neighboring New Jersey declared a state of emergency.
Gov. Phil Murphy warned that the combination of snow and wind could result in blackouts due to downed power lines. And he encouraged people to work remotely if possible as the storm would likely make travel hazardous.
3,900 pieces of equipment ready for snow operations
In Massachusetts, officials are asking non-emergency state employees not to report to work Friday.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said it has approximately 3,900 pieces of state and vendor equipment available for snow and ice operations which includes snowplows, spreader combos, and front-end loaders, and it expects to deploy approximately 2,500 pieces of equipment for this storm.
Boston said all city public schools will be closed Friday “due to inclement weather.”
Schools in the area are already facing acute staffing shortages, although it’s unclear how many are Covid-related.
In Virginia, the National Guard is being mobilized to assist with emergency management as the state faces its second winter storm this week, according to Virginia’s Army and Air National Guard Major General Tim Williams.
And Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency.
National Weather Service Meteorologist in Charge, Jeff Orrock, said the upcoming storm will be smaller but hit similar areas to the storm in Virginia earlier in the week.
“Overall we’ll see three to four inches with some isolated amounts, 4-6 inches in the higher elevations, and at the very peaks we could see 6-8 inches,” Orrock said, adding a potential of more snow with “upwards of 5-6 inches over the I-95 corridor.”
Federal government offices and public schools in Washington DC will be closed Friday. But, Mayor Muriel Bowser said select vaccination and Covid-19 testing sites will be open Friday.
Winter weather is also impacting Covid-19 testing and vaccination sites in Maryland and Virginia.
The Maryland Department of Health will delay operating times at various locations Friday and the Virginia Department of Health says five of its Community Vaccination Centers will be closed due to inclement weather.
Kentucky declares state of emergency
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency following heavy snowfall across the state Thursday. And the state’s National Guard has been activated at all interstate closures.
“The powerful severe weather is affecting travel on major interstates, and state and local roadways as well as causing power outages and damage to public infrastructure and private properties,” Beshear said in a statement.
He urged people to stay off the roads if possible and added that the Red Cross is monitoring the need for warming centers and search and rescue teams have already been activated for safety checks on stranded motorists.
The weather caused a multi-car pileup on the Western Kentucky Parkway on Thursday.
State Police Public Information Officer Scotty Sharp said the only injuries were minor and non-life threatening.
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