The Northeast braced Friday for a fierce winter storm that threatened to dump a foot of snow on some places and coat New York and Boston over the weekend with their biggest accumulations of the season.
Lake-effect snow whipped Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., and Erie, Pa., on Friday morning, and 5 to 8 inches of snow was expected to fall on parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio from Friday evening into Saturday. Indianapolis was expected to get as much as 5 inches.
Freezing rain and sleet were expected to cause problems Friday in Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois, slickening bridges and overpasses.
The National Weather Service called the whole thing a “complex storm system” stretching from Missouri to the northern tip of New York.
Metro-North, the commuter railroad that serves New York, its suburbs, Connecticut and Long Island, warned customers that it might reduce or stop service depending on the weather.
Pennsylvania pushed two state high school football championship games back by a day, to Sunday from Saturday. And Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for Logan airport, in Boston, told The Associated Press: “At some point, we’ll start calling in more staff.”
The snow and ice in the Great Lakes region was the result of a low-pressure system colliding with Arctic air. By Saturday, forecasters said, a second and more powerful low churning up the East Coast would take over and produce the heaviest show.
“This next system is really going to be a very significant storm for a lot of the country,” said Carl Parker, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel. “It’s going to grab up plenty of moisture off the Atlantic, throw it back and into the Northeast.”
Among the big cities, Boston was expected to be hit hardest hit, with as much as 8 inches of snow. New York and Philadelphia were expected to get as much as 5 inches, said Michael Palmer, another Weather Channel meteorologist.
The Weather Service in New York said Friday afternoon that 6 to 10 inches of snow was possible in interior parts of northeast New Jersey, the lower Hudson Valley and southwest Connecticut from early Saturday into early Sunday, with temperatures in the teens in the Saturday before warming that night.
Parts of the eastern Catskills and southern Green Mountains could get up to 14 inches, the weather service said. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine could see a foot of snow by Sunday.
By Sunday evening, the bulk of the precipitation should be over, moving into Canada and offshore, although few lingering snow showers can't be ruled out, mainly in Maine, Palmer said.
In the Midwest, the snow and a persistent deep freeze are causing problems for agriculture. Some river shipping channels are frozen and are expected to stay that way, slowing the movement of grain.
And the combination of snow and bitter cold is slowing the movement by truck of grain and livestock, John Dee, an agricultural meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring, told Reuters.