By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
A winter storm is forecast to explode into a "potentially historic" blizzard over New England on Friday and Saturday, dumping as much as 2 feet of snow across some parts of the region.
The storm is already getting cranked up Thursday around the Great Lakes, where 6 to 12 inches could fall in parts of Wisconsin, Michigan and New York state. Winter storm warnings are in place in those states.
By Friday, the greatest impact in New England will be along the Maine coastline, in southeastern New Hampshire, in eastern Massachusetts, and in parts of Rhode Island and Connecticut, says AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Walker. Although snow will start to fall in New England during the day Friday, "the worst conditions will hold off until later Friday and early Saturday," he says.
The hardest-hit cities could be Hartford; Providence; Boston; Worcester, Mass.; Concord, N.H.; Portsmouth, N.H.; and Portland, Maine, AccuWeather predicts. Boston could see at least a foot of snow, possibly more - the first major snowfall for that city this winter.
New York City will also get snow, but likely not nearly as much as in New England. The latest forecast as of Thursday morning is for 6-10 inches of snow in the city, according to the weather service.
The National Weather Service warns in an online report that "a potentially historic winter storm and blizzard is expected to drop 1 to 2 feet of snow across much of the region," and that "travel may become near impossible at times with considerable blowing and drifting snow." Late Wednesday, the weather service issued a blizzard watch for the region, meaning that a blizzard is forecast within the next 36 hours.
This has the potential to be a top 10 snowstorm of all time in Boston, according to the Weather Channel. A snow total of 18.2 inches or more would place it in that list.
In addition to the snow, winds and coastal flooding are also concerns: In Massachusetts, there is a chance of "ferocious sustained winds near 50 mph at the coast, with wind gusts in excess of hurricane force -- 74 mph," Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters says.
He adds that the winds will push ocean water onshore, potentially causing flooding in Boston. One forecast, Masters says, shows the city could see the third-highest water level on record.
The Weather Channel, as part of its new winter storm naming system, has dubbed this storm Nemo. Neither the National Weather Service nor any other private weather agencies are using this name.
Numerous flight delays and cancellations are possible, AccuWeather warns, mainly centered on New England, but these problems will be felt elsewhere across the nation.
Two storms - one moving in from the Great Lakes that's producing the snow there Thursday and another one moving up the East Coast - are forecast to merge near New England on Friday, Walker says.
These storms, combined with a high pressure system over Canada that's supplying cold air, provide "a classic setup for a major winter storm across southern New England," the weather service says.
The storm should put an end to Boston's snow drought this winter: The city has received only 10 inches of snow this winter season, according to the weather service. Typically, more than 25 inches would have fallen so far this winter.
It's actually been more than two years since Boston has seen a snowstorm of greater than 6 inches, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Jon Erdman.
Some New Englanders are looking forward to a weekend of skiing, sledding and snowmobiling in places that have been stuck with bare ground for much of the season: Tom Meyers of Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Massachusetts spent the past two days in Vermont at a conference with other ski area officials. He says everyone there is buzzing about the upcoming storm.
Contributing: The Associated Press