ABC News(NEW YORK) — Snow is piling up in cities across the Northeast Thursday in what could be the biggest blizzard of the season, affecting about 50 million people.
The weather system developed in the Midwest before moving east across the country, bringing a light blanket of snow from Iowa to Ohio Wednesday. The system swept into the Northeast Thursday morning and quickly intensified as it hit the East Coast, according to ABC News meteorologists who are tracking the storm.
“This is what we call a nor’easter in meteorology,” ABC News senior meteorologist Max Golembo said. “That’s when winds primarily come out of the Northeast for the duration of the storm.”
As of Thursday morning, the National Weather Service had issued blizzard warnings for Long Island, New York, and eastern Massachusetts, as well as winter storm warnings for Philadelphia, New York City, Boston and Portland, Maine.
Heavy snow started coming down in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) Thursday morning with a snowfall rate of about 2 to 4 inches per hour, which could create whiteout conditions, according to ABC News meteorologists.
“We’re in the core of this now,” ABC News meteorologist Rob Marciano said while reporting from New York City for Good Morning America.
As of 7 a.m. ET, almost 2 inches were recorded at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport, while 2 inches had fallen in New Canaan and Bridgeport, Connecticut, according to the National Weather Service.
As of 8 a.m. ET, almost 8 inches of snow had fallen in Albany, New York, and about 3 inches of snow had collected in New York City’s Central Park, according to ABC News meteorologists.
As of 9 a.m. ET, 5 inches of snow had accumulated in Haskell, New Jersey, about 6.4 inches had fallen in Bronx, New York, and 6.4 inches had collected in Danbury and Newtown, Connecticut, according to the National Weather Service.
The snowfall is expected to end in New York City by 3 p.m. ET and between 9 and 10 p.m. ET in Boston and eastern New England, according to ABC News meteorologists.
ABC News meteorologists say Philadelphia could get up to 6 inches of snow, New York City could see up to a foot and Boston could have up to 15 inches of snow by the end of the day.
Thursday’s blizzard conditions are in stark contrast to Wednesday’s balmy weather, when some northeastern cities, like Philadelphia and New York City, enjoyed record-high temperatures in the low to mid-60s.
The snowstorm will be followed by freezing temperatures Thursday, according to ABC News meteorologists. Wind chills, or “feels like” temperatures, will bottom out for numerous cities in the Northeast and Midwest.
“Wind chills tomorrow morning will be near zero for many in the Northeast and the Midwest,” Golembo said.
The heavy snowfall is creating hazardous travel and whiteout conditions for many cities in the Northeast.
The National Weather Service advised against travel in New York City and the surrounding tri-state area Thursday morning because of the snowstorm. The federal agency urged people to have an “emergency kit” on hand if travel becomes absolutely necessary.
“Travel is NOT recommended tomorrow morning due to heavy snow. If you absolutely must venture out, have an emergency kit in your car,” the National Weather Service in New York City tweeted Wednesday.
ABC News’ Linzie Janis, reporting from the New Jersey Turnpike Thursday morning, said the roads were snow-covered and the travel conditions were “pretty treacherous.”
“These roads may only get worse. Of course, those extra-cold temperatures are on the way and it could all turn to ice,” Janis said on Good Morning America. “We’ve seen several accidents already.”
Thousands of flights were canceled out of airports in the Northeast region as the storm approached. As of Thursday morning, over 3,000 flights were canceled within, into or out of the United States Thursday.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said up to 1,800 flights have been canceled so far at Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
“There is very minimal air traffic at this time primarily because there are so many cancellations,” Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman told ABC New York City station WABC-TV Thursday morning.
Area airports should be able to resume full operations by Friday morning, he said.
Meanwhile, Boston Logan International Airport had canceled 341 flights and Philadelphia International Airport had canceled 107 as of Thursday morning, according to officials.
Many schools and administrative offices throughout Philadelphia, New York City and Boston were closed because of the storm Thursday.
Some government buildings, including the United Nations headquarters in New York City’s Manhattan, were also shuttered because of the inclement weather.
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