CHICAGO — A powerful storm moved from the Plains into the Midwest early Feb. 1 that was expected to dump more than a foot of snow in some places before making its way into New England, where many cities are still digging out from a winter walloping from early last week.
There were blizzard-like conditions in Chicago and other Midwest locales as of mid-morning, which could be bad news for those planning to travel to and from Super Bowl parties later in the day. Forecasters were expecting hazardous driving conditions throughout the region.
Here’s the outlook:
The snowstorm was expected to be the most far-reaching of the season to date, stretching from Nebraska to Maine, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters also said the storm was moving unusually slowly, meaning accumulations of between 10 to 14 inches of snow are possible for parts of northern Illinois, Indiana and northwest Ohio. Similar amounts of snow are expected for the Northeast later Feb. 1 and through Feb. 2.
“This is going to be a very high-impact storm for a large swath of the eastern half of the country,” weather service meteorologist Ricky Castro said.
SUPER BOWL PARTY SPOILER?
The most intense period of snow in the Midwest was expected to hit the night of Feb. 1, right around game time, meaning the roads could be treacherous for those heading to Super Bowl parties. Potential wind gusts of up to 40 mph were expected, so drivers could face terrible visibility and snarling snow drifts.
The good news for game-day revelers living near public transportation in the Chicago area is that the storm isn’t expected to be rough enough to shut down train traffic.
Still, officials for both of Chicago’s airport said they planned to operate on reduced schedules and proactively cancel flights. Chicago’s Department of Aviation said more than 1,000 flights were canceled, with about 940 at O’Hare International Airport and 190 at Midway International Airport.
Parts of New England are still recovering from a blizzard that threw down a record 34.5 inches of snow in the central Massachusetts city of Worcester, where dump trucks and front-end loaders had to be brought in to move snow.
The Jan. 25-26 storm dumped two feet of snow on Boston 19 inches on Providence, Rhode Island. Another foot or so could spell particular trouble for snow-clearing operations in Boston’s narrow streets.
The weather service said that many parts of New England could get between 8 and 14 inches of snow and that parts of western Massachusetts and Connecticut could get as much as 16 inches.
A winter storm warning was in effect for New York City starting at 7 p.m. Feb. 1 and was expected to remain in effect until 6 p.m. Feb. 2.
SNOW PLOWS DESTROYED
The small town of Henniker, New Hampshire, will have to find a way to clear the snow without the majority of its plows. Nearly its entire fleet of snow-clearing equipment — five plows and a road grader — was destroyed in a fire on Jan. 29.
“This puts the town in a bad spot,” Henniker Fire Chief Steve Burritt told the Concord Monitor newspaper. “The town has a serious problem for snow removal. Not that there isn’t a solution, but it’s going to be a challenge.”
Investigators said the fire apparently originated in the engine of one of the dump trucks used as snow plows and spread. Officials estimate the damage could exceed $1 million.
The only heavy equipment spared — two pickup trucks and a front-end loader — was parked outside the garage. No injuries were reported.