Posted: Feb 7, 2013 8:43 AM by CBS News
A major snowstorm is passing through the Great Lakes Thursday morning, and by Friday night could make travel nearly impossible in parts of the Northeast.
CBS News weather consultant David Bernard says there is a potential for historic snows and blizzard conditions across the Northeast, with as much as 2 feet of snow in some areas.
The National Weather Service says this nor'easter-type storm system will bring strong winds and heavy snow to the region, with eastern New England experiencing the greatest effects. A blizzard watch was issued for Boston and surrounding areas, including Rhode Island, and has now been extended to the eastern end of Long Island and most of Connecticut.
A coastal flooding watch also is in effect for some shore communities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island.
Beginning late Thursday most of the Northeast will be under a winter storm watch. The snow will start Friday morning, with the heaviest amounts dumped going into Saturday as the storm moves past New England and upstate New York, the weather service said.
Bernard says the storm system - an area of low pressure over the Carolinas - is going to rapidly move to the Northeast during the day Friday; by Friday evening it may start as rain along the coast, but inland areas will get snow.
Late Friday night into Saturday morning, Bernard said, it should be all snow across the Northeast and New England. He said up to 2 feet of snow is not out of the question.
"This has the potential for being a dangerous storm, especially for Massachusetts into northeast Connecticut and up into Maine," said Louis Uccellini, director of the weather agency's National Centers for Environmental Prediction.
The storm would hit just after the 35th anniversary of the historic blizzard of 1978, which paralyzed the region with more than 2 feet of snow and hurricane force winds.
In New York City Friday's rain will turn to snow, with the potential of 6, maybe 12 inches of snow, Bernard said.
Assuming the snow clears out by the weekend with no major problems, ski areas in Massachusetts were excited by the prospect of the first major snowstorm they've seen since October 2011.
Tom Meyers, marketing director for Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton, Mass., said that at an annual conference of the National Ski Areas Association in Vermont this week, many participants were "buzzing" about the storm. He said the snow will arrive at an especially opportune time - a week before many schools in Massachusetts have February vacation.
"It is perfect timing because it will just remind everybody that it is winter, it's real, and get out and enjoy it," Meyers said.
"We'll be here with bells on," said Christopher Kitchin, inside operations manager at Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford, Mass. "People are getting excited. They want to get out in the snow and go snow-tubing, skiing and snowboarding."
At Mount Snow in Vermont, spokesman Dave Meeker said the true value of the storm will be driving traffic from southern New England northward.
"It's great when we get snow, but it's a tremendous help when down-country gets snow," he said. "When they have snow in their backyards, they're inspired."
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