Winter storm: 60 million people under weather warning as nor'easter threatens to dump 2ft of snow

More than 60 million people have been placed under weather warnings as what’s expected to be the most powerful nor’easter in a decade threatens to dump up to two feet of snow across the East Coast.  

Winter Storm Gail began blanketing areas from northern Virginia to New York City to southern Maine with powder on Wednesday afternoon as governors around the region urged residents to stay safe indoors. 

In Maryland, state police reported a sharp spike in traffic calls soon after the weather arrived, including 161 crashes and numerous stalled or abandoned vehicles on icy roadways. Police in Virginia also saw an influx of calls as more than 29,000 homes and businesses were without power as of 6pm, according to poweroutage.us.   

Despite increasingly treacherous road conditions, COVID-19 vaccine shippers say they will not let Winter Storm Gail affect distribution – but that they have made additional plans in case it does. Testing will be suspended in Rhode Island Thursday; testing centers at New York City hospitals closed from 2pm Wednesday, officials there said.  

The National Weather Service say the heaviest snowfall is forecast across central Pennsylvania, ‘where as much as two feet of snow is possible’. ‘This will likely lead to very dangerous, if not impossible, travel conditions and isolated power outages’, they added. 

A FedEx spokesperson told CNN: ‘We have a team of 15 meteorologists monitoring conditions 24/7, and we have contingency plans in place should we see any severe weather.’ Operation Warp Speed’s Gen. Gustave Perna confirmed a ‘safety stock’ of doses should the bad weather cause problems. 

UPS said in a statement: ‘We develop contingency plans based on weather forecasts and local conditions, enabling our employees to safely deliver what matters most.’ 

Snowfall in the Big Apple – which began around 3pm Wednesday –  is set to be the heaviest December in a decade with 12 inches forecast; 20.1 inches fell in Central Park in 2010, records show. Boston could see a foot of snow, forecasters say.  In a tweet Wednesday NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said schools would be closed for in person learning Thursday but insisted remote classes would continue. ‘Take this seriously,’ he added.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said officials anticipate announcing a state of emergency in several counties in the Hudson Valley from 6pm Wednesday. He added: ‘This is going to be statewide.’  

And New Jersey said it was poised to restrict commercial traffic from some highways because of the impending snow storm. 

More than 700 flights have already been canceled with train operator Amtrak forced to modify its service. A satellite image of the storm shows the huge snow cloud hitting the US early Wednesday. 

A satellite image from 12pm Wednesday shows Winter Storm Gail arriving on the East Coast, where it threatens to dump up to two feet of snow into Thursday, prompting weather warnings for more than 60 million people

A satellite image from 12pm Wednesday shows Winter Storm Gail arriving on the East Coast, where it threatens to dump up to two feet of snow into Thursday, prompting weather warnings for more than 60 million people

NYC: Friends brave wintry weather in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood on Wednesday evening.  Snowfall in the Big Apple is set to be the heaviest December in a decade with 12 inches forecast

NYC: Friends brave wintry weather in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood on Wednesday evening.  Snowfall in the Big Apple is set to be the heaviest December in a decade with 12 inches forecast

NYC: Snow begins to fall in Times Square at about 3.30pm EST on Wednesday

NYC: Snow begins to fall in Times Square at about 3.30pm EST on Wednesday

PHILADELPHIA: Pedestrians walk along the trail near the Philadelphia Museum of Art as snow falls. The National Weather Service predicts central Pennsylvania will see the heaviest snowfall from Winter Storm Gail, with up to two feet

PHILADELPHIA: Pedestrians walk along the trail near the Philadelphia Museum of Art as snow falls. The National Weather Service predicts central Pennsylvania will see the heaviest snowfall from Winter Storm Gail, with up to two feet

WASHINGTON: A mix of rain and snow falls outside the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday

WASHINGTON: A mix of rain and snow falls outside the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday 

There are warnings in place from northern Georgia to New England, with forecasters predicting two feet of snow in places

There are warnings in place from northern Georgia to New England, with forecasters predicting two feet of snow in places 

The National Weather Service say the heaviest snowfall is currently forecast across central Pennsylvania. 'This will likely lead to very dangerous, if not impossible, travel conditions and isolated power outages', they add

The National Weather Service say the heaviest snowfall is currently forecast across central Pennsylvania. ‘This will likely lead to very dangerous, if not impossible, travel conditions and isolated power outages’, they add

Forecasted snowfall in New York State Wednesday. Gov Andrew Cuomo said Monday: 'Forecasts are calling for this season's first major snowstorm in the Hudson Valley and points south, so it's once again time for New Yorkers to find their shovels'

Forecasted snowfall in New York State Wednesday. Gov Andrew Cuomo said Monday: ‘Forecasts are calling for this season’s first major snowstorm in the Hudson Valley and points south, so it’s once again time for New Yorkers to find their shovels’

Pictures taken by the DailyMail.com Tuesday and Wednesday show New Yorkers stocking up for the bad weather, buying shovels, salt and sleds. Outdoor dining has been forced to close entirely, just days after indoor dining was shut down.. 

There are warnings in place from northern Georgia to New England, with forecasters predicting snow, ice, school closures and power outages across the country. 

In a forecast The National Weather Service said: ‘Between the snow in the north and the rain in the south, a wintry mix is forecast to stretch across the southern Appalachians and the interior Mid-Atlantic roughly along the I-95 corridor. 

‘Freezing rain is the main concern across this region, as upwards of a quarter inch of ice accretion is possible. This could lead to scattered tree damage and power outages.’  

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday that the government is tracking the vaccine shipments precisely, has staffers already in place to receive them and believes the companies transporting them can navigate the storm.

‘This is FedEx, this is UPS express shipping. They know how to deal with snow and bad weather. But we are on it and following it,’ Azar told Fox & Friends. 

NYC: Officials in the Big Apple began warning of Winter Storm Gail's arrival earlier this week. Pictured: Snow begins to stick on the road at an intersection in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood

NYC: Officials in the Big Apple began warning of Winter Storm Gail’s arrival earlier this week. Pictured: Snow begins to stick on the road at an intersection in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood

NYC: A woman takes a pic of a child enjoying fresh snowfall in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood

NYC: A woman takes a pic of a child enjoying fresh snowfall in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood 

NYC: Cartoon impersonators in Times Square look up at the falling snow on Wednesday afternoon in the heart of Manhattan

NYC: Cartoon impersonators in Times Square look up at the falling snow on Wednesday afternoon in the heart of Manhattan

NYC: A couple huddle up to keep warm as snow begins to fall on 14th Street in Manhattan on Wednesday

NYC: A couple huddle up to keep warm as snow begins to fall on 14th Street in Manhattan on Wednesday 

NYC: A man salts the sidewalk outside businesses in the East Village after snow began to fall on Wednesday

NYC: A man salts the sidewalk outside businesses in the East Village after snow began to fall on Wednesday

Philadelphia: Two woman wait for the bus during a snow fall in Center City, Philadelphia, Wednesday

Philadelphia: Two woman wait for the bus during a snow fall in Center City, Philadelphia, Wednesday

Washington, DC:  Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) struggles with her umbrella outside in the snow at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday

Washington, DC:  Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) struggles with her umbrella outside in the snow at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday

Washington, DC: A snowman is setup on a ledge near the US Capitol on Wednesday. A major winter storm is expected to dump inches of snow and rain on the D.C. area on Wednesday as it blankets much of the eastern US in wintery weather

Washington, DC: A snowman is setup on a ledge near the US Capitol on Wednesday. A major winter storm is expected to dump inches of snow and rain on the D.C. area on Wednesday as it blankets much of the eastern US in wintery weather

The NWS added in their forecast: ‘As the precipitation shield advances north throughout the day, heavy snow will overtake areas northwest of I-95 in the Mid-Atlantic. This means major cities, such as Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, will likely see a wintry mix and potentially plain rain for areas just to the southeast. 

‘Further north and east, heavy snow will also encroach upon much of the Northeast and southern New England this evening, including New York City and Boston.’ 

The New York City Emergency Management Department said the ‘heavy snow and breezing conditions could cause near-blizzard conditions.’ The city has 330,000 tons of salt and 2,000 vehicles to plow the streets.

In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf signed the disaster emergency proclamation. 

‘Our theme today ought to be, ‘If it’s not one thing, it’s another,’ New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said as he gave residents storm guidance that’s new this year — mask up if you help your neighbors shovel. 

Crews from Brattleboro, Vt., Public Works Department loads up plow trucks with road salt on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, before the start of the winter storm that is to hit the area Wednesday night and will go into Thursday

Crews from Brattleboro, Vt., Public Works Department loads up plow trucks with road salt on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, before the start of the winter storm that is to hit the area Wednesday night and will go into Thursday

Department of Sanitation vehicles and buses were equipped with chains on their tires Wednesday in NYC

Department of Sanitation vehicles and buses were equipped with chains on their tires Wednesday in NYC 

Pictures taken by the DailyMail.com Tuesday and Wednesday show New Yorkers stocking up for the bad weather, buying shovels, salt and sleds. Outdoor dining has been forced to close with many restaurants

Pictures taken by the DailyMail.com Tuesday and Wednesday show New Yorkers stocking up for the bad weather, buying shovels, salt and sleds. Outdoor dining has been forced to close with many restaurants

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Tuesday that schools may close for in person learning Thursday but insisted remote classes would continue. Officials also confirmed COVID-19 testing centers will also shut from Wednesday afternoon

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Tuesday that schools may close for in person learning Thursday but insisted remote classes would continue. Officials also confirmed COVID-19 testing centers will also shut from Wednesday afternoon

NYC: In addition to the usual rolling out of plows and salt spreaders, the nation’s most populous city was adding some pandemic-era preparations to its list, such as closing city-run testing sites Wednesday afternoon and suspending outdoor dining in the sometimes elaborate spaces that now occupy parking spaces outside some restaurants

NYC: In addition to the usual rolling out of plows and salt spreaders, the nation’s most populous city was adding some pandemic-era preparations to its list, such as closing city-run testing sites Wednesday afternoon and suspending outdoor dining in the sometimes elaborate spaces that now occupy parking spaces outside some restaurants

NYC: The eateries aren’t being required to break down their wooden enclosures and other structures for outdoor dining, currently the only form of restaurant table service allowed in the city. But they are being told to secure outdoor furniture, remove heaters and take other steps to make way for plows

NYC: The eateries aren’t being required to break down their wooden enclosures and other structures for outdoor dining, currently the only form of restaurant table service allowed in the city. But they are being told to secure outdoor furniture, remove heaters and take other steps to make way for plows

NYC: The city’s snow-removal chief, Acting Sanitation Commissioner Ed Grayson, said the agency had been planning and training since summer to maneuver around the structures, pictured Wednesday

NYC: The city’s snow-removal chief, Acting Sanitation Commissioner Ed Grayson, said the agency had been planning and training since summer to maneuver around the structures, pictured Wednesday 

In NYC the Sanitation Department had already issued a snow alert forcing restaurants and bars to close their outdoor dining, effective 2pm Wednesday. 

De Blasio said Tuesday he hoped for outdoor dining to be back by Thursday after restaurants were told last Friday that from Sunday they would not longer be able to offer indoor dining for at least two weeks.   

New York City restaurants aren’t being required to break down wooden shacks and other structures they’ve set up in parking spaces for outdoor dining during the pandemic. 

But the city wants them to remove or secure outdoor furniture, remove heaters and the tops of their structures to make way for the plows that typically push piles of snow into parking spaces.

Laura Montalvo, co-owner of the Columbian restaurant La Masa, told The New York Daily News: ‘We’re pulling it apart. We don’t want any problems, because everyone has different regulations. Less headache we gotta worry about.’

Governor Andrew Cuomo had said Monday: ‘Forecasts are calling for this season’s first major snowstorm in the Hudson Valley and points south, so it’s once again time for New Yorkers to find their shovels.’ 

Long-range meteorologist Tyler Roys added: ‘Overall, a chillier pattern looks to last until Christmas, so if any locales get around a foot or more of snow, it could be enough to last until Christmas.’ 

Pennsylvania: Traffic moves slowly in Pottsville, Pa., as the snow begins to fall with Winter Storm Gail on Wednesday

Pennsylvania: Traffic moves slowly in Pottsville, Pa., as the snow begins to fall with Winter Storm Gail on Wednesday

Pennsylvania: A man trudges through accumulating snow as he departs work on Wednesday in Wilkes Barre

Pennsylvania: A man trudges through accumulating snow as he departs work on Wednesday in Wilkes Barre

source: dailymail.co.uk