The National Weather Service issued storm warnings from Virginia to Maine — a swathe home to tens of millions of people — and forecast snowfall of 18 to 24 inches (45-60 centimeters) in southern New York, northeastern New Jersey and parts of southwest Connecticut.
The NWS warned New Yorkers to expect a snowfall rate of two to four inches per hour beginning on Monday, with “near blizzard” conditions closer to the coast.
Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a local state of emergency as the city of over eight million braced for the storm, restricting non-essential travel to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.
BREAKING: beginning 6 AM tomorrow, February 1, nonessential travel will be restricted in New York City. This winter… https://t.co/VGEm3cqsp4
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) 1612142558000
“This winter storm will be dangerous with heavy snowfall and strong winds. If you can stay home, stay home,” he said on Twitter.
New Jersey governor Phil Murphy also issued a state of emergency ahead of the storm’s expected arrival, allowing authorities to close roads, evacuate homes and commandeer equipment needed for public safety.
Public transportation throughout the state will be suspended as of Monday, in anticipation of the storm’s impact.
“Charge your devices, and if you experience a power outage — report it immediately,” he urged New Jersey residents on Twitter.
Philadelphia also declared a snow emergency, closing city government buildings for Monday and ordering residents to move their cars off snow emergency routes so the plows can get through.
“Philly, please be safe and look out for each other,” Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted.
Philly, please be safe and look out for each other. https://t.co/k30QY3y0sQ
— Jim #MaskUpPHL Kenney (@PhillyMayor) 1612120968000
The storm is expected to hit Maine by Tuesday, where it will drop between eight and 13 inches of snow, as well as sleet.
The storm hit mountainous parts of California with more than six feet of snow and heavy rain last week.
The extreme weather led a chunk of Highway 1 to collapse into the sea, following a landslide in an area near the mountainous Big Sur coastline in the central part of the western state.
The snow later moved on to the Midwest, dumping about eight inches of snow in Chicago, according to the NWS.
Snowfall began overnight Saturday to Sunday in Washington. A winter storm warning from the NWS predicted between three and five inches in the area around Washington and Baltimore, Maryland.
The storm is expected to continue in the region until Tuesday, capping off with a mixture of ice, sleet and freezing rain.
President Joe Biden met with advisors Sunday to discuss “a range of issues, including the approaching winter storm,” as well as Covid-19 vaccines and economic relief, according to a White House official.
Meanwhile, Washington residents hurried outside to enjoy the snow, building giant snowmen near the National Mall, going sledding and having snowball fights.
“I feel like a kid on Christmas,” said Emilee Truitt, a student from Alabama interning in the capital.
“I woke up really giddy this morning, excited to go out and see the snow for the first time.”
It wasn’t just the humans of Washington who were out to have some snowy fun.
At Smithsonian’s National Zoo, giant pandas made the most of the winter flurry, frolicking in the snow and rolling and sliding down a slope in their enclosure.