Major Nor’easter Will Drop Nearly 2 Feet of Snow in New York


Snowplows drive through Times Square during a winter storm on Feb. 1, 2021.

Snowplows drive through Times Square during a winter storm on Feb. 1, 2021.
Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP (Getty Images)

After last year’s winter without a winter, New York is making up for it. A major nor’easter is crawling up the coast, the second big storm of the season to hit the city. It could bring nearly two feet of snow to New York and wreak havoc up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

New Yorkers on Monday (i.e. me) woke up to the beautiful sight of fat snowflakes falling out of the sky, piling up on the few inches that had already fallen overnight. Their morning coffee was interrupted by a push emergency alert warning travel would be restricted until 6 a.m. ET on Tuesday due to the blizzard-like conditions expected to engulf the Big Apple throughout the day. Lunch is expected to bring blowing snow and wind chills in the low teens, conditions that will continue into the night. All this is very exciting.

But the city is hardly the only place on alert. On Sunday, a nor’easter began to take shape, the remnant of a storm system that made its first appearance on U.S. shores last week as an atmospheric river that blitzed California. The low-pressure system then raked the Midwest and Plains with snow and blowing winds before scooting out over the Atlantic where it reorganized into a classic nor’easter.

The storm is expected to bring snow from Baltimore to Boston and points further north. The heart of the storm, however, will be in New Jersey, New York, and northern Pennsylvania. There, forecasters are calling for up to 22 inches (56 centimeters) of snow when all is said and done for large portions of that area. The Hudson River Valley and Poconos are where the biggest totals are likely to be found, though a widespread area outside the biggest bullseye is still looking at a foot (31 centimeters) or more of snow, including cities throughout Connecticut, Boston, and all the way to northern Maine.

The National Weather Service currently has New York City on tap to receive 2o inches (51 centimeters) of snow, which would put this up there as a top-five snowstorm in more than 150 years of recordkeeping. If the top-end forecast ends up panning out, that would put this week’s storm in a two-way tie for seventh place on the city’s list of biggest storms with a December 2010 storm. It’s certainly enough to make a snowy owl feel right at home.

Snow isn’t the only concern, either. Winds could roar to 60 mph (96 kph), creating whiteout conditions that make travel extremely dangerous. Heavy snow and roar winds are also a recipe for widespread power outages across the region, which could keep repair crews busy. Because of the travel risks, the storm is also creating issues for the other crisis we’re dealing with; covid-19 vaccination and testing sites shut down in the Washington, DC area as well as New York.

A few locations along the Jersey Shore, Long Island, and Connecticut could face coastal flooding as well. Long Island could see the worst of it, with up to three feet (0.9 meters) of flooding forecast this evening and possibly overnight. The National Weather Service has raised coastal flood warnings for the area, noting that flooding could be comparable to a February 2016 nor’easter that inundated the area. Waves could also create erosion issues on beaches across the region.

To top it all off (literally, in some cases), there could be periods of sleet and freezing rain. That could create slick conditions for driving and funky conditions for anyone (again, me) planning to explore Central Park on cross country skis.



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