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New England readies for historic storm

Published time: February 07, 2013 21:33
Edited time: February 08, 2013 01:33
“Great Blizzard” of 1978

“Great Blizzard” of 1978

The Northeast is bracing itself for a historic blizzard that could dump record-breaking amounts of snow on New York and Boston on the 35th anniversary of the “Great Blizzard” of 1978.

Power outages could plague the region, while deep snow and hazardous driving conditions would make travel impossible. Meteorologists believe the storm could potentially be among the top 10 worst snowstorms ever experienced in Boston and its surrounding areas.

“Very strong winds up to hurricane force are possible Friday night into Saturday,” warned the National Weather Service. “This may result in significant damage along with blizzard conditions for a time. Scattered power outages are a possibility.”

And power outages, combined with freezing temperatures, could hit hard Americans – especially those who are still trying to rebuild their homes from the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“It being winter, folks losing their power means they’re also losing their heat, and if you lose heat during the middle of the storm, you’re not going to be able to go out to get to a shelter,” Peter Judge, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, told the Chicago Tribune.

Blizzard conditions are expected to begin on Friday and Boston city schools have already been ordered to close. Mayor Thomas Menino has also asked businesses to shut down in anticipation of the crippling storm system.

“We are hardly New Englanders, let me tell you, and used to these types of storms. But I also want to remind everyone to use common sense and stay off the streets of our city. Basically, stay home,” he told reporters.

Boston is expected to get one to two feet of snow, while New York could get about 10 inches.

Before its arrival, the storm has already been compared to the Blizzard of 1978, which killed 99 people, destroyed 2,000 homes and forced 10,000 Massachusetts and Rhode Island residents to evacuate into shelters.

In anticipation of the worst, Boston has already manned a fleet of 600 snow removal vehicles. Residents have prepared by stocking up on snow shovels, ice melts and sleds. Along the coast, US residents are preparing for flooding and are expecting further beach erosion to add to the damage left behind by Sandy.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled in cities ranging from Chicago to New Jersey to Boston and Amtrak has cancelled many of its train services for the weekend.

“This is likely to be a memorable blizzard with 18 to 24 inches of snow expected across portions of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine,” said Wes Junker of the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. “Pockets of 30 inches or more are a good bet.”

Ski resorts are enthusiastically awaiting the storm to bring them snowfall that has so far been absent, but government officials are warning US residents to stay home during the predictably historic blizzard.