Massive snowstorm hits the East Coast

By Judson Jones, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 6:59 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021
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12:43 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

Strong winds pick up this afternoon

From CNN's Jackson Dill

Strong winds may lead to power outages across the Northeast.

The low pressure associated with the nor'easter is intensifying over the Atlantic Ocean. As the storm strengthens, gusty winds are forecast for the I-95 corridor from Philadelphia through Boston. 

Widespread wind gusts of 25 to 35 mph are expected inland and gusts up to 50 mph near the coast. 

The strongest winds will be felt in Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket in Massachusetts, with winds up to 60-65 mph.

The peak winds will occur this afternoon into tonight. 

The combination of wind and falling snow will reduce visibility, leading to dangerous travel and potentially blizzard conditions.

The winds will then weaken across the Northeast Tuesday and Wednesday, but it will remain blustery.

12:30 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

New Jersey governor urges residents to stay home during storm: "the worst is yet to come"

From CNN’s Taylor Romine

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy encouraged residents to stay home during today's storm as the next 12 hours are expected to be "really bad," he said during a news conference Monday. 

Early forecasts showed the storm would end sometime tomorrow morning, but they now show it continuing through Tuesday evening, according to Murphy.

While there are only about 1,500 power outages reported in the state, it is expected that more outages will happen, he said. He also reported that state troopers have responded to 340 accidents and 295 motorist aid calls as of 10 a.m. ET. 

The state previously announced on Sunday that most transit and all of the six mega-vaccination sites would be closed due to the weather. It is unclear if they will reopen tomorrow and the state will share updates later in the day regarding this, Murphy said. 

The governor also announced 3,656 new Covid-19 cases and 34 additional deaths on Monday. The state has administered just under 800,000 vaccination as of today, Murphy said. 

Note: These numbers were released by New Jersey, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

12:27 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

What questions do you have about today's massive snowstorm?

A powerful nor’easter is hitting the Northeast today, and New York City could see as much as two feet of snow.

CNN’s Bill Weir is in lower Manhattan following all the latest developments and taking your questions. Leave them below”

11:53 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

Coastal flooding will continue in the Northeast into Tuesday

The storm dumping snow across the Northeast is also delivering some flooding along the coast.

“Right now, levels are running about 2.5 ft above normal,” says CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.

NOAA
NOAA

Flooding will continue through this evening, with the highest levels expected during the high tides. Some of the worst spots may not see it subside until after high tide Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service said Monday morning.

“Water levels tonight will likely be comparable to water levels reached in the February 9th 2016 nor’easter,” the National Weather Service in Upton, New York said.

11:29 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

New York City's LaGuardia Airport cancels all commercial flights

From CNN'a LaCrisha McAllister

Flights in and out of the New York area are severely impacted by the powerful winter storm sweeping the region. 

All commercial flight activity has been canceled today at LaGuardia Airport in light of the nor'easter, the airport tweeted. 

So far at John F. Kennedy airport, 83% of flights have been canceled and more cancellations are expected later today. About 75% of flights at Newark Liberty in New Jersey have been canceled. Newark has employed snow removal and de-icing operations in an attempt to keep cancellations at a minimum. 

All travelers are advised to contact their airline for updated flights status and cancellation information.

11:13 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

Why are we getting bigger snowstorms in a warming climate?

From CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller

As New York City gets hammered with another blockbuster snowstorm, one that could end up in the top-five snowstorms – the inevitable question arises – how do these massive snow dumps happen as the planet is warming due to climate change?

And if it seems like we are seeing more of these blockbuster storms, especially along the East Coast, it's true. 

Once this storm drops its final flakes, it will almost certainly make six of the top-10 largest snowstorms in New York City history occurring in the past 15 years. With 150 years of records in the books, one would expect to only have about one top 10 storm in the past 15 years if things were distributed evenly. 

This is a trend that is playing out in much of the country and is an expected consequence of global warming. 

"The frequency of extreme snowstorms in the eastern two-thirds of the contiguous United States has increased over the past century, according to NOAA, and "approximately twice as many extreme U.S. snowstorms occurred in the latter half of the 20th century than the first." 

There are several reasons for the increased snow totals, with the main ones being warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures and added moisture available in the atmosphere. 

Warmer air can hold more moisture, and warmer oceans allow for more of the moisture-rich air to enter the snowstorms. The same principle is responsible for larger rainfall totals and increased flooding in hurricanes and summertime storms. 

While individual snowstorms may have larger snow totals in a warming climate, especially along the coasts, this does not mean winters are seeing more snow overall. Most locations are expected to see less snow, on average, during winters in the future.

This trend has already been observed with shorter snow seasons and more winter precipitation falling as rain across much of the country.

Looking at the same New York City snow history, even with six of the top 10 biggest snowstorms coming in the past 15 years, the annual snowfall average has dropped from around 31 inches/year to about 25 inches/year in those 150 years. 

So, in short, climate change means less snow overall — but more comes in quick bursts.

11:03 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

New York City Covid-19 vaccinations canceled Monday and Tuesday due to the storm

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Vaccinations in New York City are canceled Monday and Tuesday in the wake of the winter storm, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“The storm is disrupting our vaccination efforts,” de Blasio said.

“Vaccinations are cancelled today, “ and will “also be cancelled tomorrow,” he said. Based on the conditions the city is facing, the mayor believes it will be difficult and “not safe” to get around.

He said appointments can be rescheduled, and New York City will be able to catch up “quickly” he said, adding “again, we have a vast amount of capacity, we don’t have enough vaccines.”

11:02 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

New York City mayor urges residents to stay inside

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio advised people to “stay off the roads, stay off the streets and sidewalks” and “stay inside.”

He reminded people the city's order mandating non-essential travelers to stay off the road will be in effect until 6 a.m. ET Tuesday. “We got to take this really seriously," he said.

Schools, remote today, will continue to be remote Tuesday, de Blasio said. Schools will be back to in-person learning Wednesday. Food assistance is canceled today and tomorrow as well, and will be back on Wednesday.

Subways and buses are running with delays, and most ferries are suspended, if not canceled today.  

Deanne Criswell, commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department, said winds are picking up, adding “we are going to see blizzard-like conditions intermittently throughout the day today.”

There are minimal power and heat outages, but Con-Ed, the city's energy provider, has brought in extra crews, Criswell said.

The city is also expecting moderate coastal flooding. Criswell said the areas around Jamaica Bay, could see two to three feet, which could be the most flooding from a winter storm since Oct. 2018. 

10:55 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

All New York state vaccination sites closed due to winter storm

From CNN's Evan Simko Bednarski

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed that vaccination sites are closed due to the winter storm currently bearing down on New York state and the surrounding region. 

The confirmation came in an interview with host Wayne Cabot on WCBS radio Monday morning. Cuomo said that all inoculations scheduled for Monday would be rescheduled, and allowed that appointments may be canceled on Tuesday as well depending on the severity of the storm.

Cuomo also pushed back on reporting in the New York Times that he has overruled his own health officials, describing the setting of pandemic and vaccination policies as "a collaborative effort."