The winter-weary Northeast is hunkering down for blizzard conditions expected to bring sub-zero wind chills and more than a foot of snow in some parts. But it’s Boston that it’s in the cross hairs again, and is likely to break a record Sunday morning for its all-time snowiest month. The city is expected to get 9 inches of snow, but needs just one more inch to hit the milestone, forecasters said.
Twenty-six states were under weekend winter weather warnings, with no immediate end in sight to the freezing conditions. Some of the coldest air in the past 20 years will be accompanied by winds approaching hurricane force — and, for the snow-battered coast of New England, what could be a paralyzing blizzard.
A blizzard watch was in effect from the Maine-Canada border south to Long Island and a winter storm watch was in place for New Hampshire and parts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
The system threatens to disrupt travel, knock out power and make driving treacherous, if not impossible. Multiple weather-related accidents and road closures were also reported in Indiana and Ohio, including a fatal pile-up involving several semi-trucks near Columbus, according to state officials.
But the heaviest snow would come Saturday night, and the strongest winds should be Saturday night and early Sunday morning, forecasters warned.
Wind gusts could howl at 70 mph and north-facing coastal areas could suffer moderate flooding and beach erosion from the "monster storm," said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. Cape Cod would be under a hurricane force wind warning from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
Maine was due to get the greatest snowfall, with up to 20 inches this go-around. Hard-hit Boston, meanwhile, has seen 42.3 inches of snow in February, approaching the record which was set in January 2005 with 43.3 inches, said Weather Channel meteorologist Tom Moore, who added the incoming storm would set an “automatic record … pretty quickly tonight.” In all, the city has already gotten nearly 80 inches of powder since the beginning of the year, Moore said.
National Guard troops have been called to Massachusetts to help with snow removal, and crews from six different states were sent to help, Gov. Charlie Baker said during a Saturday afternoon news conference. Baker repeatedly urged residents to stay off the roads starting Sunday, but said Valentine’s night was a “Cinderella evening” and people could safely go out before the imminent snow started around midnight.
Baker declared also that the week of Feb. 15 would be “Valentine’s Week” and asked residents to support local restaurants and shops. “This has really been a very tough three weeks on our small businesses,” Baker said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.