HARTFORD — A fast-moving coastal storm expected to blast several major cities along the Northeast’s busy Interstate 95 corridor this weekend has begun with sleet and snow.
The National Weather Service said late Friday that Maryland, Delaware and southern Pennsylvania were experiencing sleet, Washington, D.C., had rain, and West Virginia was getting snow. It was predicted that mix of weather would be the region’s first real taste of winter.
The biggest snowfall amounts are expected in southern New England, but forecasters warned that temperatures hovering near freezing could make for slippery driving conditions across the region.
“It’s kind of the first one, so it’s a good thing it’s happening this weekend,” weather service meteorologist Bill Simpson in Taunton, Massachusetts, said Friday. “If this happened during a weekday, it could be really slow and messy.”
A winter storm warning was issued Friday for a large portion of central Pennsylvania ahead of the storm. Forecasters said a wide area between Gettysburg and Johnstown, stretching from West Virginia through Maryland to just south of State College and Williamsport, could get 5 to 8 inches of snow between Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
The Maryland State Highway Administration warned motorists that travel may become hazardous. The agency said it would have salt, snowplows and chain saws at the ready in case of fallen trees.
As the storm sweeps northeast along the Eastern Seaboard, it is expected to drop 2 to 4 inches of snow and ice in Philadelphia on Saturday morning before turning over to rain. It is forecast to bring 3 to 4 inches of snow to New York City and 4 to 6 inches to Boston, with higher amounts in central Massachusetts, before moving out to sea by early Sunday.
After a relatively tame start to the winter, Connecticut has plenty of salt and snow-treatment chemicals stockpiled around the state and a fleet of 632 plow trucks ready to go, Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said. He said crews have been pre-treating some highways and bridges, but there already is some salt leftover from recent, smaller storms.
“We don’t need to go full tilt,” he said.
The storm is expected to begin as snow across much of the region, with areas east of I-95 receiving mostly rain. Forecasters say accumulation amounts will depend on how quickly the rain line moves west. The weather service said the Philadelphia area could receive as much as a quarter-inch of ice Saturday morning before the rain arrives.
Meteorologist Peter Wichrowski in Upton, New York, said snow likely would start to fall in New York City in the early morning hours of Saturday, with a mix of rain and maybe a little sleet along the coastal areas. He said snowfall totals were expected to be around 1 to 2 inches across eastern Long Island.
Baltimore and Washington were expected to get only rain as temperatures hover just above freezing.
MICHAEL MELIA, Associated Press___
Associated Press writers Albert Stumm in Philadelphia and Deepti Hajela in New York contributed to this report.