By Brian Lada – AccuWeather
An all-out blizzard continues to slam Long Island and New England into Tuesday, bringing many communities to a standstill.
Flight cancellations are mounting and travel bans and state of emergencies have been issued due to the blizzard that will halt travel, cut power and endanger anyone who ventures out into the storm.
For the latest information on travel bans, flight cancellations and other impacts, continue to follow AccuWeather.com’s live blog for updated reports throughout the storm.
Greatest Hazards for the Blizzard of 20151. Travel will be brought to a standstill from New York City area to Boston to Portland, Maine2. Motorists run the risk of becoming stranded3. High chance of airports closing4. Snow totals in excess of 2 feet expected from southern New Hampshire to central Long Island
5. While snow will persist in New York City and Boston, conditions will rapidly deteriorate from Portland to Bangor, Maine, to Saint John, Canada, Tuesday.
6. Snow drifts as high as 10 feet; roofs may collapse
7. Lengthy power outages
8. Wind gusts near hurricane force on Cape Cod early Tuesday morning
9. Coastal flooding from New Jersey northward
10. Power outages, snow-packed roads and school closures may last for days after the blizzard
This system rapidly strengthened from an Alberta Clipper into a major snowstorm on Monday before evolving into a blizzard across southern New England on Monday night.
The heavily populated zone of southeastern New England, will be brought to a standstill with impacts lingering well after the blizzard departs.
This could turn out to be the biggest storm of the winter for many areas in the Northeast and could rank among the greatest snowstorms in some communities.
In Worcester, Massachusetts, the greatest snowstorm on record is 33 inches set during the late March and early April storm in 1997. As of 8:00 a.m. EST, Tuesday, Worcester had tied their fourth largest snowstorm of 25 inches set during February of 1893. During February of 2013, Worcester received 28.7 inches.
Snow totals will reach or exceed 2 feet across a large part of Long Island and southern and eastern New England. This includes Manchester, New Hampshire; the Boston area, Worcester, Massachusetts; Willimantic and Groton, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island; and Islip, New York.
During the height of the storm, snowfall rates could reach 4 inches per hour. It is during these extremely heavy snow bands that thunder could be heard.
This map shows the amount of snow forecast to fall from Tuesday into Wednesday. This does not include snow that fell over the area Monday and Monday night.
Strong winds howling during the storm will cause severe blowing and drifting of the snow. Drifts on eastern Long Island and from Connecticut to southeastern Maine can average 5 to 8 feet. Drifts could even approach 10 feet from Providence to Boston. Roofs may fail under the weight of such drifts.
People using shovels to clear the snow should take their time and take frequent breaks while shoveling to reduce the risk of heart-related injuries and fatalities.
Impacts from the powerful storm will be felt all across the Northeast and into portions of Canada, but the worst of the storm is expected to focus on the area from central Long Island to Boston and Portland, Maine.
The blizzard will unload heavy snow and winds howling past 35 mph. The combination of the snow and wind will dramatically lower visibility down to zero. Winds in southeastern Massachusetts can occasionally gust up to near hurricane force during the worst of the storm Tuesday morning.
Travel conditions will quickly deteriorate across the area as the heavy and wind-swept snow moves in. As the storm worsens and reaches its peak, travel will be halted.
Motorists traveling at the height of the storm run the risk of becoming stranded as roads rapidly become clogged and snow-packed and the dangerously low visibility.
“Anyone stranded will face life-threatening conditions unless they have an emergency survival kit. Rescuers may not be able to reach them,” stated AccuWeather.com Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.
“Surface transit may be suspended as well,” Abrams added.
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Thousand of flights have been cancelled in the Northeast corridor alone.
Travel delays associated with this storm will not be limited to the Northeast. Ripple-effect delays are possible elsewhere in the nation if airplanes and crews are displaced due to the storm.
Lengthy power outages may result due to the strong winds, especially in southeastern New England. The winds could also down large tree limbs, which would pose additional hazards to those attempting to navigate snow-covered roads and sidewalks.
These strong winds blowing off the ocean have and will continue to cause coastal flooding and beach erosion from New Jersey northward with the worst flooding into Tuesday evening.
“Luckily for area residents, Monday marks the first quarter of the solar cycle (half the moon is visible). This means that the difference between high and low tide will be minimal,” stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Evan Duffey.
“Also, Jan. 21 was Perigee when the moon was closest to the Earth. If the storm had come five days earlier, the high tide would have been higher by a good margin. The combination of these factors will work against the storm somewhat to limit coastal flooding.”
Conditions will improve by Wednesday as the blizzard departs, allowing crews to begin the cleanup process in the wake of the storm.
Even after the worst of the storm has passed, it could take days for power to be restored, air traffic to return to normal, roads to be fully geared and schools to get back in session.
“Lingering midwinter cold and additional rounds of snow will add to difficulties for cleanup and those without power after the Blizzard of 2015,” stated AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
The economical impact of the blizzard will also be fully assessed after the fact. While companies could suffer losses, the blizzard could actually benefit others.
For example, companies will be faced with extra expenses due to transit being shut down, power outages and goods not being able to be transferred. On the other hand, the blizzard will eventually be a boost for the ski industry and stores that sell generators or other storm-related supplies.
AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski contributed to the content of this story.
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