Residents across eastern US and New England hunker down as snow, ice, freezing rain approach


BOSTON (AP) — Residents across the eastern U.S., particularly in New England, are gassing up snow blowers, dusting off shovels and gearing up for a wintry mix of precipitation as a potent storm system bringing snow, freezing rain and ice bears down on the region.

The system was expected to track along the northeastern coastline throughout the weekend, with the heaviest snowfall expected in Pennsylvania, parts of the Hudson Valley and portions of New England.

Winter storm warnings and watches were in effect throughout the Northeast.

In Massachusetts and portions of Rhode Island, the National Weather Service declared a winter storm warning from 4 p.m. Saturday through 1 a.m. Monday, with snow accumulations of 6 inches up to a foot and winds gusting as high as 35 mph.

The weather service predicted similar levels of snow in portions of Maine and New Hampshire, with slightly less — 3 to 6 inches — in areas of Vermont.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the city was preparing for the storm but wasn’t expecting it to be a major event, and the timing of the snow meant it would likely have less of an impact on city life. Storm surges were also not expected.

Wu said she hopes the snow will be cleaned up in time for school Monday morning.

Subway, bus routes and commuter rail lines will operate on a regular Sunday schedule in greater Boston, officials said. Non-passenger trains will help keep tracks clear and look for any trees or branches that pose a threat to overhead wires.

Commuter rail operators deployed more than 1,000 pieces of snow-fighting equipment, including blowers, salt trucks, plows, and other equipment, across the network.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey said that while the state isn't expecting record-breaking snow, residents should protect themselves and their loved ones by making sure homes stay safely heated.

“Please also take some time to check in on your neighbors to make sure everyone stays warm and safe,” she said.

Greg Carbin, chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said precipitation in the form or rain or snow was expected to overspread the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday and develop across areas of Pennsylvania and upstate New Jersey and before spreading across parts of New York and New England through the night with snow totals of up to 12 inches.

“We’re keeping a close eye, especially on Boston. They could pick up quite a bit of snow. Most areas in interior New England should see anywhere from half a foot to a foot of snow with this event before it starts to wind down,” Carbin said.

Ice arrived early Saturday to some western North Carolina and southern Virginia areas, ranging from a fine coating to around a quarter-inch. Watauga County, North Carolina saw some of the highest amounts, said meteorologist Dennis Sleighter of the National Weather Service’s Blacksburg, Virginia, office.

With temperatures creeping up, freezing rain turned to “plain cold rain” before the storm left the region, he added. The Virginia Department of Transportation warned motorists to beware of icy spots in the Salem region and to watch for wet roads that could freeze overnight.

The National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said 6 to 12 inches of snow could fall in the southern Pocono mountains and northern New Jersey, with smaller snow and sleet totals changing to rain in other areas that could cause some flooding. Forecasters also warned of hazardous marine conditions Saturday night with gale-force wind gusts and 6-foot to 10-foot seas.

Forecasters also warned of another storm Tuesday into Wednesday that is expected to bring rain and some flooding as well as high winds and coastal flooding.

Philadelphia has already reached 705 consecutive days with less than an inch of snow, through Friday — beating the prior record of 661 days that ended on Dec. 15, 1973. New York City went 691 days through Friday, outstripping the prior record of 383 days that ended on March 21, 1998. Baltimore reached 707 days through Friday, beating the prior record of 672 days that ended on Dec. 25, 2012.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says it’s been about two years since a major storm hit the state.

“I think this storm’s been a long time coming,” Lamont said.

State Transportation Commission Garrett Eucalitto said his department will have about 900 drivers on duty, including 630 snowplows.

Parts of central Maine were hit hard by a December storm that brought flooding and cut power to more than 400,000 customers.

In the West, winds gusting in excess of 40 mph ahead of a powerful winter storm moving into the Sierra Nevada briefly knocked out power to more than 27,000 customers in the area of Reno, Nevada, but service was restored to all but about 5,000 by the afternoon.

A winter storm warning remained in effect through Sunday morning around Lake Tahoe, with as much as 20 inches of snow expected and winds gusting up to 100 mp at the highest elevations..