Weather and Natural Disasters

Northeast braces for potentially historic March blizzard

Phil McCausland
People chat on Monument Ave. during a Sunday morning blizzard in Charlestown, Boston on February 15, 2015.
Bill Greene | Boston Globe | Getty Images

The Northeast is bracing for a historic late winter storm that is forecast to bring blizzard conditions, damaging winds and the heaviest snowfall the region has seen all season.

New York City, Boston and Philadelphia are set for up to one foot of snow lasting from late Monday through Wednesday — and interior areas could see up to two feet.

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But the most dangerous part of the storm will come Tuesday morning when the snow combines with wind gusts of 55-70 mph, threatening power outages and minor damage from falling trees.

"This is when the snow will be falling so hard and blowing around so much cars and trucks will be at risk of getting stranded," NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins said.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard watch for New York City and parts of northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut, while winter storm warnings and watches were issued for the remainder of the Northeast.

The heaviest snowfall is expected Tuesday morning through the afternoon, with snowfall rates of as much as 2 to 4 inches per hour.

@BillKarins IF #NYC see's over 18.1" of snow it will make top 10 all-time recorded snowstorms. Even more crazy, then 7 out of top 10 be since 2003

A coastal flood watch was issued for Brooklyn, Staten Island and southern Queens for Tuesday morning, NBC New York reported.

According to The Weather Channel, 36 winter storms since 1869 have produced a foot or more of snow in New York, but only four happened in March — most recently March 3-4, 1960.

"This would certainly be the biggest snowstorm of the 2017 winter season in New York City," said Faye Barthold, a NWS meteorologist based on Long Island.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel and help keep the roads clear for sanitation crews and first responders.

"We're preparing for a significant storm on Tuesday, and New Yorkers should also prepare for snow and dangerous road conditions," de Blasio said.

@weatherchannel Winter Storm #Stella moving from the MW to the NE. Heavy snow, gusty winds, low visibility, #blizzard & coastal flooding @weatherchannel app

John DiMarco was thrilled to get the last snowblower at his New York City-area Lowe's.

"Hopefully, it is not as big as they are saying," DiMarco told NBC New York. "I have a snowblower at home that doesn't work, and now I'm here. I don't want 18 inches of snow — my back can't take it."

In Cranston, Rhode Island, store crews left winter gear on the shelves even as they stocked up on spring products.

"I was thinking we should be on a beach with a piña colada" Marie Carpinelli said as she shopped at an auto store.

"I was getting ready for spring, but it doesn't seem like it wants to cooperate," Carpinelli told NBC station WJAR of Providence.

@gdimeweather Winds a BIG concern along New England coast Tuesday. Making matters worse, high tide is right around time shown in graphic #costalflooding

Washington, D.C., will also catch up on some snow after it saw only 1.4 inches all season — quite a bit less than its typical 16 inches. This storm will bring the city to a halt with 8 to 12 inches of snow, and it could threaten the city's cherry blossom blooms.

The National Park Service said the low temperatures could cause the blossoms to lose about 10 percent of their blooms. They had previously forecast that the oddly warm February would cause peak bloom from Tuesday through Friday.

Don't expect the weather to change for the better after the storm, either — the wintry chill is going to last for a while.

"Behind the system a lot of the Northeast will stay cold," said Sherri Pugh, a meteorologist for NBC News. "It's not like we have these great warm temperatures behind it — we're going to stay chilly."

@weatherchannel Here are 5 things to know about Winter Storm #Stella: