Snow was falling around the Northeast Friday, ushering in what’s predicted to be a massive, possibly historic blizzard, and sending residents scurrying to stock up on food and gas up their cars ahead of the storm poised to dump up to 3 feet of snow from New York City to Boston and beyond.
Along the Jersey Shore, towns that have been working to replenish protective dunes were not expecting anything as destructive as Superstorm Sandy. Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie added his voice to the chorus of officials advising motorists to stay off the roads Friday night.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection officials aren’t predicting any significant coastal flooding in those areas.
Brick Township Mayor Steve Acropolis, who says weakened portions of dunes on the barrier island have been shored up with more sand, is concerned the storm dubbed Nemo might cause some flooding in back-bay areas.
“If there’s any kind of a silver lining … people have not moved into those low-lying homes because they haven’t gotten them repaired yet,” Acropolis said. “Those people aren’t back, so they really don’t have to go anyplace. They’re already hopefully in a higher place.”
With a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet expected, any residents remaining in flood-prone areas have been told to get ready to move to higher ground.
“Sandy was more like 14 feet, but we’ve handled nor’easters in the past,” Acropolis said. “We haven’t really had a bad one since we did have Hurricane Sandy. I think we’re well prepared right now.”
The town is allowing residents to move their cars to some of Brick’s ball field and parks.
New England could have record-breaking snow
In New England, it could prove to be among the top 10 snowstorms in history, and perhaps even break Boston’s record of 27.6 inches, set in 2003, the National Weather Service said. The heaviest snowfall was expected Friday night and into Saturday. Wind gusts could reach 75 mph. Widespread power failures were feared, along with flooding in coastal areas still recovering from Superstorm Sandy in October.
Philadelphia was looking at a possible 2 to 5 inches by the time the storm ends. Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson urged caution for all motorists and pedestrians on the city’s streets. Streets Department crews are expected to spread out by 4 p.m. to salt roadways and monitor for snow and icy conditions throughout the evening.
South Jersey was expecting just a few inches of snow Friday, while parts of North Jersey could be walloped with up to 14 inches and blizzard conditions
Christie urged motorists to stay off the roads to make room for the 3,000 trucks ready to clear New Jersey’s roads.
“If you can be off the roads, that would be even more helpful. It allows our vehicles to be able to clear, salt, and sand the roads much more efficiently and effectively, and it keeps you out of harm’s way,” Christie said during a Friday afternoon news conference. “Tonight is a good night to stay home with you family and watch the snow come down, but not get in the middle of it.”
Airlines scratched more than 3,700 flights through Saturday, with the disruptions from the blizzard certain to ripple across the U.S. Amtrak said its Northeast trains will stop running Friday afternoon.
“This one doesn’t come along every day. This is going to be a dangerous winter storm,” said Alan Dunham, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. “Wherever you need to get to, get there by Friday afternoon and don’t plan on leaving.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.