New Yorkers are being urged to stay home unless they are essential workers.
“I want New Yorkers to hear me loud and clear — stay home and off the roads,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in declaring a state of emergency for 44 counties.
Heavy snow, gusty winds and coastal flooding could create a historic storm. As of late afternoon, Central Park had reported 15.3 inches of snow, the National Weather Service said.
CNN meteorologists say it’s possible around 2 feet of snow will blanket the city before the storm passes.
About 17 inches had fallen in one neighborhood in the borough of Queens.
“The storm is still developing. It’s still intensifying. It’s a massive storm,” CNN meteorologist Tom Sater said. Near-blizzard conditions are expected into Monday night, with wind gusts of 35-40 mph. The storm may not let up until Wednesday morning.
Covid-19 vaccination sites in the state were closed Monday because of the storm. Mass vaccination sites at SUNY Stony Brook, Jones Beach, Aqueduct Racetrack, the Javits Center and the Westchester County Center will all be closed Tuesday, officials said.
De Blasio said appointments can be rescheduled, and NYC will be able to catch up “quickly.”
LaGuardia Airport and JFK canceled all remaining commercial flights for Monday.
Storm surge may top seawall
Storm surge from the system pushed water levels 2 to 3 feet above normal Monday morning, and that should increase as the winds pick up in the afternoon and evening.
“The city should see the highest water levels tonight in the runup to high tide,” which occurs around midnight local time, said Bill Goodman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton, New York.
The forecast calls for water levels to reach 8.4 feet late Monday, very near the 8.5-foot level where water washes over the Battery Park seawall in New York and begins to flood the boardwalk, according to NOAA data.
“I’d give it a one in three chance to overtop the seawall,” Goodman told CNN. “It is certainly something we will be watching for tonight.”
The hard-hit places
New York City
The snowfall, which began late Sunday night, picked up intensity Monday, and snowfall rates could get as high as 2 to 3 inches per hour for the city, Long Island and southern Connecticut. That could create zero-visibility conditions and make travel very dangerous.
The city transit authority suspended outdoor subway service starting at 2 p.m. Monday.
Buses were still operating, but the city and state are monitoring the situation closely, said Sarah Feinberg, interim president of the New York City Transit Authority.
No empty or tandem tractor trailers are allowed on bridges, and pedestrian walkways on some bridges were closed.
Students in the city school system will take classes remotely through Tuesday, de Blasio said.
“It’s a little challenging,” East New York resident Debra Paul said. “The gentleman had to hold me, because I was lifting off the ground.”
The storm could drop up to 21 inches by the time it ends. If that happens, it will be the most snow the city has seen since the January 22-24, 2016, storm that dumped 27.5 inches over a two-day period. It would also cement this storm as one of the most prolific winter storms for the city, placing it in the top 10 of largest snowfall totals on record.
Washington has already seen 2-3 inches of snow, ending a run of 710 consecutive days without an inch of snow or more, the second-longest in the city going back to 1884.
On Monday, the precipitation transitioned to a sleet and snow mix, coating roadways with ice and adding to driving danger.
There’s a chance of some light snow on Tuesday morning before it ends in the afternoon. The district could see a total of 5 to 7 inches, the most in the last two years.
A similar combination of rain and snow hit Philadelphia, where 6 inches of snow fell at the airport. A rain-snow mix in the morning will likely switch back to snow through Tuesday. The final total expected there is around a foot.
A wintry mix beginning Monday night will continue all day Tuesday, changing back to snow Tuesday night.
Boston is accustomed to significant snowfall, having alerted crews to plow 2,000 lane miles of the city’s roadways through Tuesday.
Nearly 65 million across a dozen states are under some kind of winter watch or warning, including in the Midwest.
Metro Chicago saw the most snow since 2018.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had the wrong first name for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Taylor Ward, Rebekah Riess and Devon Sayers contributed to this report.