The New York City area was placed under a 35-hour blizzard warning beginning Monday afternoon, with as much as 3 feet of snow expected to create "paralyzing, crippling" conditions, forecasters said Sunday. It's part of a storm system that meteorologists said will pummel the Northeast from Philadelphia all the way to northern New England with potentially "historic" snow accumulations well into Tuesday night.
The worst of it will be late Monday through Tuesday night, with blizzard conditions, possible airport closings and major flight delays, damaging wind gusts and possible coastal flooding, the National Weather Service warned. The nation's largest city was put under an extraordinarily long blizzard warning stretching from 1 p.m. Monday to midnight Tuesday.
The forecast means New York City could easily smash its one-day snowfall record — 26.9 inches, recorded in Central Park in February 2006.
"Very highly populated areas of the Northeast are going to get crushed with snow," said Tom Moore, coordinating meteorologist for The Weather Channel. "Everywhere ... you're going to get get hit very hard by this storm."
"This could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of this city," Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Sunday. "My message for New Yorkers is prepare for something worse than we have ever seen before."
"This is going to be a big one, historic," Moore said. "There could be paralyzing, crippling blizzard conditions."
Moore said travel would be "dangerous if not impossible." Many airlines declared winter weather waivers, allowing passengers in the Northeast to change itineraries without a fee.
Moore said New England was "going to take a big hit, for sure," with the storm intensifying "into a monster" as it moves northeastward Monday.
Massachusetts was also bracing for winds that could reach 70 mph in coastal areas, which, paired with the falling snow, will create whiteout conditions. That will likely mean some time off for hundreds of thousands of workers.
"Now it's going to all come. February is a snow month, and I can't wait," Debora Labonte of Chicopee, Massachusetts, told NBC station WWLP of Springfield. "I went to the grocery store and picked up a few items getting ready to maybe stay home from work.
The forecast came after millions of Americans across the Northeast awoke Saturday to a blanket of snow that was later doused with rain, leaving New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in a sloppy mess.
New Jersey State Police reported 126 traffic accidents, and a parking garage in Secaucus collapsed under the weight of the snow and a plow, police said. The plow's driver suffered minor injuries in the accident, which created a hole that was 50 feet by 50 feet, NBC New York said.
A Nor'easter delivered more than 5 inches of snow in New York City, while residents of northern New York were digging out of as much as 9 inches, NBC New York reported. Saturday's storm was the first significant snowfall in the New York area this winter. Scott Flath, general manager of Long Island Hardware in Bohemia, New York, said his store is well-stocked but that many of his customers are making their first winter supply runs of the season. He said they're telling him, "I have no idea where my shovel for last year is."
Alastair Jamieson of NBC News contributed to this report.
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