By Christina Maxouris, CNN
A powerful nor’easter forming off the coast of the Carolinas Friday night is threatening millions of people with heavy snow and vicious winds as it makes its way up the East Coast.
There are blizzard warnings in effect for millions of people in coastal areas from Virginia to New England. Officials are urging residents to stay home and avoid getting on roads. Transportation systems are canceling some services. And state leaders across the East Coast have declared emergencies.
Here’s how states are preparing for the storm.
The storm is set to impact several parts of Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Thursday as he declared a state of emergency.
Heavy wet snow will mix with high winds, which could make for dangerous travel conditions and cause downed trees and power outages, the governor’s office said. There’s also a threat of tidal flooding.
“We have already started planning and mobilizing resources needed to protect the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said Thursday. “We are very concerned with the forecasted impacts to our Eastern Shore region and have started pre-positioning resources to ensure a timely response to that area.”
“The most important thing everyone can do to minimize the risks is to prepare yourself and your family,” the governor added.
Most of Maryland could see several inches of snow, while the state’s lower Eastern Shore could see up to 12 inches, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday.
The governor declared a state of emergency and mobilized National Guard members to help assist local agencies that will respond to the storm’s impacts.
“We urge Marylanders to take this winter storm seriously, especially residents on the Eastern Shore, where we are anticipating blizzard-like conditions,” the governor said in a statement. “Stay off the roads tonight for your own safety, and so that the crews and first responders can do their jobs.”
The State Highway Administration completed a pretreatment of roads across the state and was “surging resources” to the part of the state expected to be hardest-hit, the governor’s office said Friday.
Storm response teams and equipment are also at the ready to remove snow and ice, the office added.
State, county, city and contract crews were already working Friday to keep roads safe, the SHA said as it asked drivers to stay off the roads.
“Make sure you leave room for these folks to do their jobs,” it said on Twitter.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency that went into effect Friday evening. He said the state was expecting a “significant statewide snow event.”
All state offices were set to close at 3 p.m. Friday.
“Our advice to everyone is to be prepared to hunker down once you get home this afternoon and stay home,” Murphy said. “Stay home tonight and stay home tomorrow.”
The governor asked residents to report power outages and downed power lines.
NJ TRANSIT, the statewide transit provider, announced Friday it would suspend all bus, River LINE and Access Link services Saturday.
The state’s transportation department issued a commercial vehicle travel restriction on multiple interstate highways statewide that went into effect Friday evening and will be in place “until further notice,” the department said in a news release Friday.
The restriction applies to vehicles including recreational vehicles, motorcycles, passenger vehicles pulling trailers and all tractor trailers, the release said.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency effective 8 p.m. Friday for Long Island, New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley, and urged travelers to stay off the roads.
In New York City, emergency management department officials issued a hazardous travel advisory for Friday evening through Saturday, telling residents to prepare for “snow covered roads and limited visibility.”
“The combination of snow, potential strong winds, and the quick drop in temperatures will cause extremely dangerous road conditions,” said Christina Farrell, the city’s emergency management acting commissioner. “We are advising all New Yorkers to avoid all unnecessary travel and stay off the roads on Friday night to Saturday evening.”
About 10,000 sanitation department employees will be “working 12-hour shifts” throughout the weekend, according to Edward Grayson, department of sanitation commissioner.
“Residents can help us by staying off the roads as much as possible so that our plows and salt spreaders can get through safely,” Grayson said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority — which serves people across New York City, Long Island, southeastern New York state and Connecticut — made various adjustments ahead of the storm, including suspending all Long Island Rail Road service Saturday morning and suspending branch line service on all Metro-North train lines. Amtrak canceled some Saturday services, including all of its high-speed Acela service between Washington, DC, and Boston and regional service between Boston and New York, the company said.
Officials said Friday a state emergency operation center was activated and downstate stockpiles were opening with thousands of pieces of equipment at the ready to respond to severe weather impacts.
Suffolk County has 18,000 tons of salt ready with over 200 vehicles ready to be deployed on roads, said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
Connecticut is prepared for the weekend’s “wicked snowstorm,” Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday, saying the state will deploy more than 600 snow plows to help clear snow and has 100,000 tons of salt to treat roads, and 600 crews ready to help with power issues.
“It’s going to be heavy in places, one to two feet,” the governor said. “A lot of this is going to be wetter snow, especially along the coastline, especially in southeast and southwest Connecticut.”
Officials at the transportation department are bringing in contractors to help assist clearing the snow, said Commissioner Joseph Giulietti.
In Rhode Island, where Gov. Dan McKee also declared a state of emergency Friday, a travel ban for motor vehicles on state roadways will be in place from 8 a.m. Saturday through 8 p.m., while another ban for tractor-trailers and motorcycles — except ones carrying emergency supplies — will be in place from 6 a.m. Saturday through 11:59 p.m.
“Not only are we expecting large amounts of snow, we’re also expecting high winds. And we’re fully expecting whiteout conditions tomorrow. This is serious,” the governor said.
McKee assured residents the state is prepared for the 12 to 18 inches of snow in the forecast beginning Friday night, saying the state’s transportation department has 75,000 pounds of salt that will be used to treat roads Friday night.
The state has 150 plows of its own, in addition to 350 plows contracted through vendors, according to Transportation Department Director Peter Alviti, Jr.
McKee said state-run Covid-19 vaccination and testing sites will close Saturday.
With parts of Massachusetts projected to see up to 24 inches of snow, Gov. Charlie Baker urged residents to avoid non-essential travel and check on their neighbors in need.
“This storm has the potential for high winds and flooding in some coastal regions,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a statement.
The state’s transportation department issued a tractor trailer travel ban on interstate highways from 6 a.m. Saturday through midnight. Meanwhile, the state’s national guard put personnel and equipment on stand-by to help authorities with high water and rescues of stranded drivers, if needed.
The storm could also cause power outages across the state, particularly in areas along the coast, in eastern and southeastern Massachusetts and on Cape Cod and the islands, the governor’s office said.
“Utility crews are being staged to assist in restoring power. People are reminded to stay away from any downed utility wires,” it added.
A “snow emergency” will start at 9 p.m. ET Friday in Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu said earlier Friday.
“This has a potential to be a historic storm, a huge one,” Wu said at a news conference, adding that peak snowfall is expected Saturday morning and will stop sometime Sunday.
“We are expecting as much as 18 to 24 inches of snow and 40 to 50 mile per hour winds. This is likely to be an intense, dangerous storm, with heavy snow, high winds and whiteout conditions,” the mayor said.
More than 38,000 tons of salt are prepped to treat roads and more than 800 pieces of snow management equipment will be available, said Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s chief of streets.
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