ARLINGTON, Va. — New Jersey and New York City declared emergencies on Sunday as a powerful winter storm that hammered the West last week roared through the Midwest and took aim at the Northeast.
Blizzard conditions with up to 2 feet of snow were possible for some areas.
Almost 80 million people were under winter storm warnings, watches and advisories. Major Eastern cities including Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City were bracing for the biggest snowfall of the season, Accuweather warned.
The National Weather Service also forecast that winds could gust between 35 to 50 mph, reducing visibility with drifting snow and leading to danger of falling tree branches and power lines.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency that began at 7 p.m., with 2 to 4 inches of snow expected later Sunday. The snow will intensify across the state on Monday, with the National Weather Service forecasting as much as 3 inches per hour. All New Jersey transit and its six vaccine megasites will be closed Monday.
“Heavy snow, coastal flooding, and high winds are expected in many parts of the state," Murphy said. “The safety of residents and workers is our utmost priority. Please follow all weather-related guidance and stay off the roads in order to allow access for emergency personnel.”
In New York City, snow was not forecast to stop Monday until about a foot had fallen, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to declare a state of emergency limiting nonessential travel late Sunday night.
"This winter storm will be dangerous with heavy snowfall and strong winds," he tweeted. "If you can stay home, stay home. Keep the roads clear for emergency vehicles."
Eight to 18 inches of snowfall was forecast for the Hudson Valley and across upstate New York.
"Another storm system is set to impact New York with potentially heavy snow, strong winds and possibly coastal flooding downstate," Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned. "I am urging all New Yorkers to ... begin preparing their households for this latest round of winter weather."
Cuomo directed state agencies to prepare for the worst and to be ready to assist local governments that could be overwhelmed in coming days. He said utility companies would be monitored to "ensure any power outages are addressed immediately," later announcing that mass and community vaccination community sites would be closed.
The snow started before dawn Sunday in Washington and made its way into the Northeast. Washington hadn't had a major snowstorm in almost two years, but saw two to four inches Sunday before transitioning to an mixture of ice and sleet in the evening.
— National Mall NPS (@NationalMallNPS) January 31, 2021
In suburban Arlington, students won't gett a snow day Monday. It's a teacher grading day, and classes here, like many across the nation because of the pandemic, are almost all online. Learning in Arlington no longer halts for inclement weather.
"It’s hard to expect students to focus when there is a fresh blanket of snow just outside their windows," said Bill Drake, a math teacher at Washington-Liberty High School. "It will be interesting to see how much work gets done on Tuesday."
The storm has maintained its fury since sweeping through much of the West, slamming California with heavy rains and the mountains with feet of snow. The system then rolled across the Midwest.
Chicago could get a foot before it stops Monday. Wind gusts of up to 30 mph and a Lakeshore flood advisory compounded problems.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Milwaukee metro area, as well as counties along the Illinois border. Milwaukee was pounded with 10 inches of snow Saturday night into Sunday. This snowstorm, plus heavy snow that fell in the area Tuesday, left snow depth totals above 15 inches in many areas.
"That's more snow than we've seen in a decade," said Chris Stumpf, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sullivan, Wisconsin.
'More snow than we've seen in a decade': About 10 inches of snowfall hit areas around Milwaukee
Contributing: Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, Joe Taschler and Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Weather forecast: Snow storm sweeping East after slamming West