As a powerful nor’easter lingered in the New York City area on Thursday morning, meteorologists confirmed that the region had been hit by its biggest winter storm in years, and that more snowflakes were likely to come.
Still, the quick-moving storm that had pummeled the region with snow, sleet and heavy winds was now headed up the coast toward New England, the National Weather Service said, meaning the bulk of the storm had already passed.
“We’re not entirely done. But the heaviest snowfall has likely passed,” said Da’Vel Johnson, a meteorologist with the Weather Service’s New York office.
Though New York City and its suburbs in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut remained under a winter storm warning until 1 p.m., Mr. Johnson said the storm was expected to have moved on by around 11 a.m.
The heaviest snowfall hit the city overnight. As of 8 a.m., the National Weather Service recorded 10 inches at Central Park, with nine inches remaining on the ground, Mr. Johnson said. The region could probably expect another inch at most, he added.
Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times
Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times
Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
To the north, some places in Massachusetts saw up to 10 inches of snow, with more expected to come, and parts of upstate New York were also hit particularly hard.
In Binghamton, N.Y., meteorologists reported 41 inches of snow. The executive of Broome County, which encompasses it, ordered a ban on travel on Thursday morning, allowing only essential personnel on the roads.
Still, even with the storm leaving metropolitan New York, its effects were expected to linger. With temperatures hovering near freezing and a mix of snow, sleet and rain expected in the morning, the National Weather Service warned that roads and sidewalks would likely be icy and that travelers should take extra care.
The storm had already been linked to collisions that caused multiple deaths in Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as a multicar crash that in New York City that injured a half-dozen people. Traffic piled up further south, in Maryland and near Washington.
The heavy winds and fairly high snow totals brought power outages to parts of the New York City region. More than 3,700 customers were without electricity on Long Island on Thursday morning, according to utility providers; the bulk of the outages were in eastern Suffolk County. In New Jersey, 4,102 outages remained as of 8 a.m. on Thursday, officials said, compared to about 13,000 at the peak of the storm.
New York City’s Sanitation Department said a snow alert remained in effect, meaning restaurants were still prevented from serving customers in their roadway dining setups. A spokesman said it was unclear when the alert would end, especially with high winds remaining from the storm.
Mr. Johnson said the cold temperatures ushered in by the storm were expected to remain as well, with wind-chill effects making the region feel particularly frigid.
“It will be pretty chilly for quite some time,” Mr. Johnson said. “Like, welcome people to winter.”
The major snowstorm that walloped the Mid-Atlantic states, creating hazardous driving conditions and producing at least a foot of snow across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, will continue to move northward through New England on Thursday.
The area will see snow throughout the day and it will begin tapering off by the evening hours, according to the National Weather Service. The final flakes associated with the weather system will fall across eastern Maine and Cape Cod late Thursday evening, the service said.
After most of southern New England experienced moderate to heavy snowfall overnight, some areas on Thursday will see two to three inches per hour. Matt Otten, the manager at Zaftigs Delicatessen, a Boston restaurant known for its Jewish comfort food, said he typically would not close because of bad weather. This time, though, he was worried. “We are concerned for our workers’ safety since the roads are going to be very treacherous,” he said.
Overnight, parts Massachusetts saw up to 10 inches of snowfall, and meteorologists predicted additional snow accumulations up to nine more inches before the storm moves out of the area.
Around Boston, overnight snow totals were in the five-inch range, and more was expected throughout the day. Colder air will also push back into the Boston area Thursday morning with temperatures falling below freezing before noon.
Meteorologists in Vermont said a band of heavy snow moved across the southern Rutland and Windsor counties overnight, creating poor visibility. Travel in southern Vermont could be hazardous in the morning hours, they said, as heavy snowfall was expected to continue at a rate of at least two inches per hour.
In New Hampshire and Maine, where the winter storm was advancing, meteorologists predicted snow through Thursday morning and into the afternoon. The heaviest snow will fall in mid morning, they said. The National Weather Service in Portland said the southern parts of the two states could receive between 12 and 18 inches of snow, with lighter accumulations toward the north.
Cities from the Mid-Atlantic to New England were blanketed by snow and ice on Wednesday and Thursday from the season’s first messy winter storm, with some recording more snowfall overnight than they had all last winter.
New York City. Central Park saw 10 inches of precipitation, with nine inches recorded on the ground, according to the National Weather Service. Eight to 12 inches had been forecast, but a meteorologist with the Weather Service said on Wednesday night that the city might end up on the lower end of that prediction by the time the storm moved out of the area.
Binghamton, N.Y. The city, in New York’s Southern Tier, has recorded at least 39.1 inches — more than three feet — the Weather Service said, and also broke a record for largest one day snowfall in December. The snowfall was expected to slow after 7 a.m.
Newark. Newark recorded three inches of snow, as of Wednesday, according to the Weather Service. Parts of Sussex and Warren Counties had received more than 10 inches of snow as of early Thursday. Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said the storm had caused the delivery of vaccines to hospitals to be delayed, but most likely just by several hours. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re at the tail end of this without question,” he said. Ice was the biggest concern, he said.
Boston. Moderate to heavy snow was continuing to fall across the region. As of 7:40 a.m. on Thursday, parts of Suffolk County had seen 8.5 inches, the Weather Service said.
Hartford, Conn. Towns and cities surrounding Connecticut’s capital, where snow was still falling early Thursday morning, recorded between seven and 12.5 inches, according to the Weather Service.
Philadelphia. Philadelphia recorded 6.6, the Weather Service said, the largest snowfall since March 2018.
Baltimore. Parts of Baltimore County saw up to 8.5 inches of snow, but only 3.8 inches fell in the city of Baltimore as of early Thursday, the Weather Service said. Roads were expected to remain slippery.
Washington. One inch was recorded on Wednesday, according to the Weather Service. Dulles International Airport, which is in Virginia and just outside the city, saw 2.3 inches as of midnight.
It’s usually a New York City nightmare: a midweek nor’easter that promised to dump a foot of snow before the morning commute, snarling traffic, shutting down airports and commuter train lines, slowing subways and forcing parents to somehow work around small children thrilled by a day off from school.
But this is 2020. The snow day began nine months ago. And in the sort of reversal that could only happen in this pandemic era, a heavy snowstorm is, to many, a most welcome change, something new to look at from the windows that New Yorkers have lived behind since March.
Of course, to essential workers and city agencies, the storm was still a storm, packing the potential for major problems. Restaurant workers, coming off the halt of indoor dining on Monday and some outdoor dining ahead of the storm on Wednesday, braced for the first stretch without any business since the spring. Taxi drivers, food vendors — everyone who makes a living in the street — stood to face a loss made greater by the months that came before.
But in other pockets of the city, to anticipate and lean into something fun — to see a colossal storm approaching and think “sled” — felt almost indulgent. Mothers and fathers planned to mute their office notifications before ducking outside with sons and daughters, finding fresh, white hills normally out of reach on a work day.
Daniel Lugo and his daughter, Frida, 6, tried two hardware stores in Brooklyn’s Windsor Terrace neighborhood on Wednesday, finally finding what they were after — a long blue sled — on Prospect Avenue. “Our last one,” a worker said.
“Oh, yes!” came the shouted reply — and not from Frida. “It actually feels good,” Mr. Lugo said, his glasses fogging above his mask. Normally, he’d be taking a subway to Manhattan, but now, “I commute in my socks,” he said. “I’ll take half a day, take this one out sledding — I’m actually excited.”
He’ll have to wait until school ends for the day to sled with Frida, though. In the upside-down year that is 2020, the once-a-century asterisk, it was New York’s public-school children who suffered a loss on Thursday, missing out on the chance of a day off. The city suggested this week that remote learning would quite likely make snow days a thing of the past, perhaps for good.
The fast-moving winter storm that barreled through the Mid-Atlantic and into the Northeast on Wednesday and Thursday created hazardous road conditions in the affected areas.
A pileup involving dozens of cars on Wednesday on Interstate 80 in Clinton County, Pa., resulted in two deaths, the state police said. A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police said a 19-year-old man had died in a car crash, one of about 200 the state police had responded to by 3 p.m.
In New York City, a multicar collision on an already salted stretch of road just south of a bridge linking Manhattan to the Bronx left a half-dozen people hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
As the night wore on, the storm, as had been forecast, was proving to be one of the biggest in New York, Philadelphia and other East Coast cities since a crippling 2016 blizzard.
“Everything that was predicted is right on track,” David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New York, said Wednesday evening. As of midnight, Central Park had gotten 6.5 inches of snow and sleet, the Weather Service said.
The snow had started to stick in New York City several hours earlier and continued with growing intensity until around midnight. By Thursday morning, it appeared that the city would accumlate less than a foot of snow.
The storm, a nor’easter, hit first in Maryland, Virginia and the Washington area, with a mixture of freezing rain and snow blanketing the region. Near Frederick County, Md., dozens of cars could barely inch forward on a packed highway. In Washington, about 50 miles southeast, the snow seemed to be turning to slush.
The storm stretched nearly 1,000 miles, from North Carolina to New England, according to the National Weather Service, and had threatened to fell trees, knock out power and cover roadways with ice.
A municipal snow plow struck and killed a man in western Pennsylvania late on Wednesday afternoon, the authorities said. The episode happened just before 5 p.m. in North Versailles, Pa., about 13 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, according to local media reports, which said that the man had been operating a snow blower when the public works plow backed into him.
The first major winter storm of the season made its way up the East Coast on Wednesday and into Thursday morning, and like everything in 2020, it was made more complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hospitals in the storm’s path, already struggling with overloaded intensive care units and emergency departments from Covid-19 hospitalizations, delayed elective surgeries to keep beds available. Several major cities, including Baltimore and Hartford, Conn., temporarily shut down coronavirus testing sites in anticipation of heavy snow and wind.
The storm also threatened the timely delivery of a coronavirus vaccine, just as the first inoculations of health care workers began this week. St. Luke’s University Health Network, which operates 12 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, expected to receive its first vaccine delivery on Thursday, but a spokesman said there was a possibility it would be delayed by the storm.
While hundreds of school districts announced that they would close Wednesday and Thursday because of the storm, others found online learning honed during the pandemic to be the perfect substitute for a snow day, disappointing students who hoped for a day off.
Even the usual headaches of flight delays — hundreds of flights were canceled on Wednesday — came with new worries because of the virus. Chloe Cho, 22, was supposed to fly home from Boston to Chicago on Thursday, but the storm caused her to delay her trip an extra day.
“I am not thrilled,” she said. “I usually don’t mind waiting in airports, but now I’m scared because of Covid that I’m going to have to sit around and wait for my flight due to the storm.”
With a major winter storm bearing down on the Eastern United States, you can expect some people (and, perhaps inevitably, President Trump), to ask, “What happened to global warming?”
It’s becoming increasingly clear that climate change does have an effect on storms, though the relationship can be complex and, yes, counterintuitive. “There were these expectations that winter was basically going to disappear on us,” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at AER, a company that provides information to clients about weather and climate-related risk.
Although winters are becoming warmer and somewhat milder overall, extreme weather events have also been on the increase, and especially in the Northeastern United States, as Dr. Cohen pointed out in a recent paper in the journal Nature Communications. From the winter of 2008-9 until 2017-18, there were 27 major Northeast winter storms, three to four times the totals for each of the previous five decades.
One of the factors potentially feeding storms is a warmer atmosphere, which can hold more water vapor; not only can that mean more precipitation, but when the vapor forms clouds, “it releases heat into the air, which provides fuel for storms,” said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. Also potentially important, but less understood, she noted, is “the increased tendency for the jet stream to take big swoops north and south,” setting up weather phenomena like the dreaded polar vortex.
Does that mean this particular storm has been fueled by climate change? Jonathan E. Martin, a professor in the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, cautioned against drawing quick conclusions.
Because of the “enormous natural variability” in storms and the weather they deliver, “I think it is a dangerous business attributing individual winter storms, or characteristics of them, to climate change,” he said. And this storm in particular, he added, is getting a lot of its moisture from water vapor evaporated off the Atlantic Ocean, which complicates the picture.
Dr. Francis agreed that any connections are complex, but added, “all storms now form in a greatly altered climate, so there’s little doubt that the same storm decades ago would not be the same.”