USA - Winter Storm March 20-22 - Northeast

22 Mar 2018

A long-duration winter storm is forecast to deliver moderate-to-heavy snow and a wintry mix to parts of the US Mid-Atlantic and southern New England regions March 20-22. While some snow, sleet, and freezing rain will move through West Virginia, Maryland, and northern Virginia on March 20, a second round of heavier snowfall is predicted to spread over the affected area March 21-22 as a coastal low pressure system develops. Snowfall totals will be highly variable, and dependent on how close to the coast the storm forms. Current forecast models indicate that the most significant snow accumulations will occur in southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. The following snowfall accumulations are possible in major northeastern US cities through March 22: 

Boston: 7.5-13 cm (3-5 inches) 
New York City: 25 cm (10 inches) 
Philadelphia: 25 cm (10 inches) 
Washington, DC/Baltimore: 10-15 cm (4-6 inches) 

Forecast uncertainty remains high, and changes to forecasted snowfall totals are likely as the system develops. Slight variations in the storm's track would shift the area of heaviest snowfall accumulations. The snow will probably have a high moisture content, meaning it could weigh down utility lines and tree branches; power outages are likely. In addition to heavy snowfall, strong winds could gust up to 80 kph (50 mph). Winds may cause whiteout conditions and significantly reduce visibilities. The strongest winds will likely occur in coastal areas from New Jersey to southern Massachusetts. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued several winter storm watches, winter storm warnings, and winter weather advisories throughout the affected area; coastal flood watches are also in effect for parts of Massachusetts. The NWS could upgrade the winter storm watches to warnings in the coming days. 

Air Transport 
Extensive flight cancellations and lengthy delays can be expected at airports throughout the northeast through March 22, including those serving Baltimore (BWI), Boston (BOS), Hartford (BDL), New York (EWR, LGA, JFK), Philadelphia (PHL), Providence (PVD), and Washington, DC (IAD, DCA). Major airlines will probably introduce flexible rebooking options for flights to and from many cities in the affected area as the storm approaches. 

Ground Transport 
Heavy snowfall and reduced visibilities will cause ground transport, public transit, and commuting disruptions throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the US. Paved surfaces are relatively warm, and the strong sun angle will likely make it difficult for snow initially to accumulate on roads. Nevertheless, hazardous driving conditions are likely, especially in areas where heavy snow bands develop. Commercial trucking and traffic could be impacted on area interstates, including on large portions of the I-64, I-66, I-68, I-70, I-76, I-78, I-80, I-81, I-83, I-84, I-87, I-90, I-91, I-95, and I-97 corridors, as well as along numerous other US and state highways. 

High-profile vehicles may be subject to wind restrictions on some exposed bridges along the East Coast, and some bridges may temporarily close to traffic. The Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston metropolitan areas could enact snow emergencies/parking restrictions to assist in snow removal efforts. Bus services in these cities could also experience delays and service changes March 21-22. 

Rail/Maritime Transport 
Amtrak Acela Express and Northeast Regional services may be significantly delayed or canceled during the storm. Metro, subway, and light rail services could operate on modified schedules in major cities along the I-95 corridor. 

Strong winds and storm surge could cause some maritime disruptions at ports along the Atlantic coastline; however, disruptions to cargo handling operations will likely be minor. Ferry services in the New York City and Boston metropolitan areas could be suspended while the system transits the region. 

Further assistance

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