Snow, sleet and rain struck from Virginia to Pennsylvania on Saturday as a weekend winter storm moved up the East Coast and promised to bring more of the same to New York City and Boston.
Warm temperatures clashed with the southern reaches of the storm to produce unstable air, violent winds, and a tornado in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said National Weather Service meteorologist Will Redman.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Garrett Pingol said the vortex struck utility lines and small boats, but resulted in no known injuries.
The main storm brought snow, ice, and "freezing drizzle" to northern Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon, with the front heading northeast by evening, according to the weather service's Baltimore-Washington office.
Public schools in Loudoun County, Virginia, canceled on-campus activities and closed administrative offices Saturday.
The Virginia Department of Transportation said motorists should consider when to hit the road, as they could face icy surfaces and "slick spots" during the storm.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission issued a similar warning and advised drivers to avoid unnecessary travel.
“Additionally, the agencies will implement various speed and vehicle restrictions throughout the storm,” state officials said in a news release.
Snow was expected to fall in western Maryland, in the Appalachian Mountains, through Sunday, the weather service said.
As the front moved into the Philadelphia region and northern New Jersey on Saturday night it was expected to produce snow at a rate of 1 inch per hour, the weather service said.
New York Gov. Kathy Holchul told WCBS Newsradio 880 that New York City, without a viable snowstorm for 692 days, was unlikely to see accumulations, but much of the rest of the state could see 8 to 12 inches of snow from the front.
“Plows are ready, we have personnel deployed, we have our emergency operations center stood up — we’ve been doing this since Wednesday in anticipation,” she said.
By early Saturday evening, a trace of snow was measured in nearby Newark, New Jersey, the weather service said.
A winter storm warning was in effect from New York City to New England. It also included northern New Jersey.
The storm comes amid a snowfall drought, with some locations posting record numbers.
New York City's 692 days outstripped the prior record of 383 days that ended on March 21, 1998. Baltimore reached 707 days through Friday, with a prior record of 672 days that ended on Dec. 25, 2012.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said at a news conference that the state had salt piles ready to go, extra utility crews and expected to "have hundreds of plows out there on the ground."
"I think this storm’s been a long time coming," he said. "It’s been over two years since we’ve had a storm of this magnitude, 6 to 12 inches. We’ve got a lot of salt piled up here; it’s been piling up for a while (and) some shiny new snow plows."
Boston was likely to see heavy snowfall late Saturday night, the weather service said, with accumulations of 6 to 8 inches possible.