Here’s what you need to know:In Jersey City, N.J., on Monday, when heavy snow was expected to blanket the New York City area.Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
A winter storm stretching from North Carolina to New England was expected to produce more than a foot of snow in some areas, disrupting travel for millions of people along the I-95 corridor and creating hazardous conditions through Tuesday, meteorologists said.
Widespread snowfall of up to 12 inches, including pockets of snow greater than 18 inches, was likely in the Northeast.
In New York City, a forecast of up to 20 inches of snow by Tuesday could make the snowstorm one of the biggest in the city’s history. About six inches of snow had fallen as of Monday morning, according to Dominic Ramunni, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that the city could see up to 22 inches of snow, noting that the storm was hampering the city’s ability deal with the pandemic as coronavirus vaccination appointments scheduled for Monday had been postponed.
“There will be locusts next at the rate we’re going,” he said during an interview on MSNBC.
He said that “job number one right now is to protect people’s lives” by dealing with the snowstorm.
On Sunday, Mr. de Blasio issued a local emergency declaration, barring most travel in the city starting at 6 a.m. on Monday except in cases of emergencies. Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey declared a state of emergency beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday and said most of New Jersey Transit’s bus and rail operations would be temporarily suspended on Monday because of the storm.
As of 9 a.m. on Monday, heavy snow was moving over parts of Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service, with accumulations of 16 to 22 inches forecast for the northeastern part of the state, as well as northern portions of New Jersey. Wind gusts could reach up to 35 m.p.h. Areas in central New Jersey could see snow totals around 15 inches, the service said, making travel extremely difficult.
In Philadelphia, about two inches of snow had fallen by the early hours of Monday, with about five inches in the suburbs. Conditions across the area were expected to dramatically worsen as the day progressed, local meteorologists said, suggesting the heaviest snow would fall from midmorning through the early evening.
It was forecast that the Philadelphia area would receive eight to 12 inches of snow. Areas around the city were expected to receive over a foot and more than 18 inches of snow was possible in the Lehigh Valley and Poconos. A combination of heavy snow and strong winds up to 60 m.p.h. in some areas could create power outages.
In Pittsburgh, city crews were already clearing roads and bridges on Monday morning.
In New England, blizzard-like conditions were forecast on Monday, Boston meteorologists said. Snow was expected to begin falling in Massachusetts at a rate of one to two inches an hour by the morning, and a foot was expected by the evening. Wind gusts up to 70 m.p.h. and moderate coastal flooding could occur.
By Monday evening, the snow will shift into Northern New England, according to the National Weather Service. Areas of rain and freezing rain could occur along the I-95 corridor from Washington to Philadelphia.
On Sunday, as much as three inches of snow fell across the Washington area, and forecasters predicted another inch or so on Monday.
Buses were running in the Bronx early on Monday.Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times
The advancing snowstorm is throttling travel across the Northeast on Monday, with many of the largest public transportation systems shuttered and a majority of flights grounded.
The storm already pummeled the Midwest, causing the cancellation of at least 128 flights at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Sunday, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday issued a state of emergency, restricting nonessential travel starting at 6 a.m. on Monday.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey declared a state of emergency beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday and said most of New Jersey Transit’s bus and rail operations would be temporarily suspended on Monday because of the storm.
Long Island Railroad service on Monday will operate on a weekend schedule; MetroNorth service will end early. At the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, which describes itself as the “busiest bus terminal in the world,” all bus service will be suspended on Monday.
At Kennedy Airport, “the vast majority of flights” for Monday have been canceled, the airport said Monday morning on Twitter. At La Guardia Airport, about 81 percent of the flights for Monday had been canceled as of Sunday night.
On the roads, tandems and empty trailers were banned on parts of Interstates 87 and 84 as of 5 a.m. Monday. Restrictions were also in effect for areas of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, including reduced speeds of 45 m.p.h.
Travel along and west of the Interstate 95 corridor from Pennsylvania to Maine will quite likely be affected, the National Weather Service said.
A snowstorm blanketed the area near the Flatiron Building in Manhattan in a photograph published in The New York Times in January 1913.Credit…The Pictorial News Co.
Some National Weather Service models indicated that up to two feet of snow could fall in New York City, making it one of the heaviest snowstorms in the city’s history.
The highest total snowfall came over three days in January 2016, when 27.5 inches of snow fell in Central Park, with 27.3 inches falling on Jan. 23, a daily record, according to the Weather Service. The second highest occurred in February 2006, with 26.9 inches of snow.
The fifth highest was in February 2010, when 20.9 inches fell.
The city has seen storms drop 20 or more inches of snow only seven times since the mid-1800s, according to the Weather Service.
Dominic Ramunni, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said on Monday that forecasts predicted “upwards of 20 inches for the city,” with snowfall picking up in the early afternoon.
He said the most snow would likely fall in the northwest part of the New York region, including northeast New Jersey and the lower Hudson Valley, while less snow would fall toward Long Island and the east.
Wind gusts could reach 45 miles per hour, potentially creating “blizzard-like” conditions, said Deanne Criswell, the city’s emergency management commissioner.
Officials and utilities warned of falling trees and widespread power outages across the region.
National Guard members on duty on Sunday at the U.S. Capitol, which is now protected by fencing.Credit…Cheriss May/Reuters
As inches of snow piled up during Washington’s biggest winter storm in two years, there was one place without any snowball fights.
The Capitol grounds, one of the best spots in the city for sledding, are now off limits, another reverberation of the rampage there on Jan. 6.
Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting House delegate, had urged the Capitol Police to allow the tradition to continue. The activity could be done safely, Ms. Norton said in a statement on Saturday, “by allowing only children and adults accompanied by children” into the area.
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But a Capitol Police spokeswoman, Eva Malecki, citing the current security concerns and the city’s coronavirus restrictions, said it could not be permitted. “We, however, look forward to welcoming sledders back in the future,” she said in a statement.
While a rule against sledding on the Capitol grounds has been in place for decades, it was rarely enforced until after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Ms. Norton has pushed for sledding to be allowed on the grounds for years, routinely adding a provision to the annual federal spending bill to “forbear enforcement” of the ban mentioned on Page 175 of the Capitol Police regulations. She first succeeded in slipping the pro-sledding provision into the omnibus spending bill in 2016. (“Go for it!” she told the city’s residents after the ban was lifted that year.)
The previous year, Washingtonians held a “snow-in” at the complex to protest the rule.
The ban has been revived at another moment of heightened tensions. Instead of children making snowmen and snow angels, visitors to the Capitol complex these days are greeted by seven-foot-tall, unscalable fencing that went up after the riot.
VideoWinter storm warnings were in place for much of the Eastern United States, with some areas expecting as much as two feet of snow through Tuesday.CreditCredit…Alex Brandon/Associated Press
Blizzard is a colloquialism that is often used when there is a significant winter storm.
But certain conditions must be met for a storm to qualify as a blizzard; the distinction is not based solely on snowfall.
The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm that has sustained wind gusts that exceed 35 miles per hour for at least three hours, along with blowing snow limiting visibility to less than a quarter-mile.
Meteorologists said that Monday’s winter storm might drop more than two inches of snow an hour in some areas, and that it appeared to have the hallmarks of a blizzard.
A nor’easter is a broad term used for storms that move along the Eastern Seaboard with winds that are typically from the northeast and that blow over coastal areas, according to the National Weather Service.
They can form at different times of the year.
This storm developed when an area of low pressure over the Ohio Valley, which brought snow to the Lower Great Lakes and northern Mid-Atlantic, passed the baton to a nor’easter forming off the East Coast, the Weather Service said.
Last month, Madrid was buried under snow, part of a series of unusual weather events this year.Credit…Gabriel Bouys/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
This week’s winter storm is part of a pattern caused by disturbances to the upper-atmosphere phenomena known as the polar vortex that can send icy blasts from the Arctic into the middle latitudes, chilling Europe, Asia and parts of North America. The disturbance and its effects have persisted for an unusually long time this year, said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, with two disruptions of the polar vortex so far this year and, potentially, a third on the way.
Research into the interplay of the complex factors that bring on blasts from the polar vortex is ongoing, but climate change appears to be part of the mix. While warming means milder winters overall, “the motto for snowstorms in the era of climate change could be ‘go big or go home!’” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a company that provides information to clients about weather and climate-related risk.
The United States has already seen heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada and in the Great Plains in the past week. Last month, Madrid was buried under a paralyzing foot and a half of snow, and parts of Siberia suffered an unusually lengthy cold spell with temperatures of 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit — and one area recorded a temperature of nearly 73 below. (Last summer, some of the same areas experienced record heat.)
The wild weather has its origins in the warming Arctic. The region is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and research suggests that the rising temperatures are weakening the jet stream, which encircles the pole and generally holds in that frigid air. In early January, a surge of sudden warming hit the polar stratosphere, the zone five to thirty miles above the surface of the planet.
When one of those “sudden stratospheric warmings” happens, it delivers a punch to the polar vortex that can cause the Arctic air to shift and to make its way down through the atmosphere to people who suddenly need to layer up and break out their shovels.
Punxsutawney Phil last year during the 134th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa..Credit…Barry Reeger/Associated Press
This Groundhog Day will not be at all like the others.
As far back as 1900, The New York Times was already referring to this annual “hoary superstition” as a tradition.
Like clockwork, the event draws the curious and worldwide attention. Will a portly groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? The feeling that this may never change was accelerated by a popular 1993 movie starring Bill Murray as a weatherman who is “inexplicably living the same day over and over again” as he covered the annual festivity in Punxsutawney, a bucolic borough in western Pennsylvania about 300 miles west of Midtown Manhattan.
Change does not come easy to this part of the world. Until, that was, the coronavirus pandemic.
The event will proceed on Tuesday in Punxsatawney, but it will be held virtually. The organizers of the event, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, said in a recorded message that “No in-person attendance or guests will be allowed on the ground.”
As for the massive snowstorm burying parts of the Northeast, organizers are, for now, forging ahead. Gobbler’s Knob, the groundhog’s home turf, will be closed on Monday at 5 p.m. but will reopen on Tuesday by 9 a.m. The livestream will begin that day at 6:30 a.m.
That dispatch was, itself, a hybrid of modernity and antiquity. It was posted on Instagram. But the words were printed on a sign, held by a man.
People in the Bronx waiting to get vaccinated for the coronavirus on Saturday. A winter storm is expected to disrupt vaccinations across the Eastern United States.Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times
Coronavirus vaccine sites in the New York metro area were closing Monday because of a looming winter storm that is expected to dump more than a foot of snow on the region.
Winter storm warnings were in place for a large swath of the Eastern United States on Sunday, disrupting vaccinations in Washington, Philadelphia, New Jersey and elsewhere.
At a news conference on Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said he did not want older residents traveling to vaccine appointments amid blizzard-like conditions with gusty winds. Vaccinations scheduled for Tuesday in New York City have not been canceled, for now, Mr. de Blasio said.
The storm will temporarily derail a vaccine rollout that has been plagued by inadequate supply, buggy sign-up systems and confusion over the New York State’s strict eligibility guidelines. The vaccine is available to residents 65 and older as well as a wide range of workers designated “essential.”
About 800,000 doses have been administered so far in the city, Mr. de Blasio said.
Vaccine appointments at several sites in the region — the Javits Center in Manhattan, the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, a drive-through site at Jones Beach in Long Island, SUNY Stony Brook and the Westchester County Center — would be rescheduled for this week, according to a statement from Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. “We ask all New Yorkers to monitor the weather and stay off the roads tomorrow so our crews and first responders can safely do their jobs,” she said.
In the Philadelphia area, city-run testing and vaccine sites will be closed on Monday. Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and parts of the Washington, D.C., area were following suit. Some areas away from the center of the storm were expected to remain open for vaccinations, including parts of Massachusetts and upstate New York.