NEW YORK – The day of the big storm is here at last.
After several days of build-up, what promises to be the most significant winter storm in years was beginning to bear down on the East Coast early Wednesday.
Snow was likely to fall all the way from Georgia to Maine, which was expected to lead to very dangerous travel conditions and isolated power outages, the National Weather Service warned.
“All the ingredients are now coming together for our snowstorm, and I really don’t see a way out of this for many cities across the Northeast,” AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said late Tuesday.
A wide swath of the region was forecast to see a foot of snowfall accumulation, with some spots potentially seeing up to 2 feet, the Weather Service said.
In all, over 50 million people were under a winter storm warning, including the New York City metro area, where more than a foot of snow was possible. This was the first winter storm warning issued for New York City in more than a year, the Weather Channel said.
“We have not had a lot of storms like this in the last few years, thank God. We’ve seen much less snowfall than we did a few years back,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. “So, this could be the biggest storm in several years.”
“Take this seriously,” he warned New Yorkers.
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The Weather Channel dubbed the storm “Winter Storm Gail,” though no other forecasting companies, nor the Weather Service, uses this name.
On Wednesday morning, parts of the Midwest and mid-Atlantic were already seeing some light snow fall. Weather Service offices in Indianapolis and Syracuse, Indiana, reported that the snow was ongoing.
According to the Weather Service, the storm was moving into West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania this morning and was then forecast to trek to the New York area and beyond by the evening.
AccuWeather forecasts that Washington and Baltimore will get around 1 to 3 inches and 2 to 4 inches, respectively. Philadelphia might get 4 to 8 inches, while Boston in addition to New York could see up to a foot of snow, AccuWeather said.
“The heaviest snowfall amounts from this system are currently forecast across central Pennsylvania, where as much as two feet of snow is possible,” the Weather Service said.
In some areas, the snow coming Wednesday “would be more snow in one event than
was seen all of last winter,” it said.
The Weather Service also warned of the dangers that could come with such heavy snowfall.
Freezing rain, ice accumulation and heavy snow will lead to dangerous driving conditions, downed trees and power outages, the Weather Service said.
Travel in areas with the heaviest snow likely will be “very dangerous, if not impossible,” it added.