Winter weather batters both US coasts; Sierra snow shuts down I-80; East Coast storm into Monday

FILE - A roadway caution sign is seen on the New York Thruway as motorists commute during a winter snow storm, March 14, 2023, in Albany, N.Y. A winter weather system moving through the U.S. is expected to wallop the East Coast this weekend, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, into Sunday, Jan. 7, with a mix of snow and freezing rain from the southern Appalachians to the Northeast although it's too early to say exactly which areas will get what precipitation and how much. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File) (Hans Pennink, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BOSTON – Winter weather battered both U.S. coasts Saturday as New Englanders braced for an even more potent mix of snow and freezing rain through the weekend and a Sierra Nevada storm packing heavy snow shut down a stretch of interstate and briefly knocked out power to tens of thousands in Reno, Nevada.

Winter storm warnings and watches were in effect throughout the Northeast, and icy roads made for hazardous travel as far south as North Carolina.

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The National Weather Service said it was a “major winter storm” that would continue into Sunday evening, with up to a foot (30 centimeters) of snow in parts of New England and pockets of rain/freezing rain in the central Appalacians.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she expected two-thirds of her state to get 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow or more, “fortunately missing some of our more populated areas downstate, the Long Island and New York City.”

“If they get anything beyond rain, it’ll be just a wintry mix of 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters), but really for our Southern Tier ... it’s going to be the first major snowstorm of the year and we’re ready for it,” she told Spectrum News.

In the West, a winter storm warning was in effect through Saturday night in the Sierra Nevada from south of Yosemite National Park to north of Reno, where the weather service said as much as 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow could fall in the mountains around Lake Tahoe with winds gusting up to 100 mph (160 kph) over ridgetops.

The California Highway Patrol said numerous spinouts and collisions forced the temporary closure of I-80 for several hours from west of Truckee, California, to the state line west of Reno, where more than 27,000 homes briefly lost power in high winds at midday.

Fewer than 1,000 customers were without power by nightfall, and westbound lanes of the interestate had reopened but a steady snow was falling in Reno and CHP warned of potential closures throught the night.

The weather service said that system would continue to bring heavy mountain snow and coastal rain overnight before moving into central and Southern California, then off to the Southwest and the southern Rockies.

The East Coast system was expected to track along the northeastern coastline throughout the weekend, with the heaviest snowfall expected in Pennsylvania, parts of the Hudson Valley and portions of New England.

In Massachusetts and portions of Rhode Island, the National Weather Service declared a winter storm warning from 4 p.m. Saturday through 1 a.m. Monday, with snow accumulations of 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) up to a foot (30.4 centimeters) and winds gusting as high as 35 mph (56 kph).

The weather service predicted similar levels of snow in portions of Maine and New Hampshire, with slightly less — 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15.2 centimeters) — in areas of Vermont.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the city was preparing for the storm but wasn’t expecting it to be a major event, and the timing of the snow meant it would likely have less of an impact on city life. Storm surges were also not expected.

Ice arrived early Saturday to some western North Carolina and southern Virginia areas, ranging from a fine coating to around a quarter-inch (6.4 millimeters). Watauga County, North Carolina saw some of the highest amounts, said meteorologist Dennis Sleighter of the National Weather Service’s Blacksburg, Virginia, office.

The National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said 6 to 12 inches (15.2 to 30.4 centimeters) of snow could fall in the southern Pocono mountains and northern New Jersey, with smaller snow and sleet totals changing to rain in other areas that could cause some flooding. Forecasters also warned of hazardous marine conditions Saturday night with gale-force wind gusts and 6-foot to 10-foot (1.8- to 3-meter) seas.

Forecasters also warned of another storm Tuesday into Wednesday that is expected to bring rain and some flooding as well as high winds and coastal flooding.

Philadelphia has already reached 705 consecutive days with less than an inch (0.64 centimeters) of snow, through Friday — beating the prior record of 661 days that ended on Dec. 15, 1973. New York City went 691 days through Friday, outstripping the prior record of 383 days that ended on March 21, 1998. Baltimore reached 707 days through Friday, beating the prior record of 672 days that ended on Dec. 25, 2012.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says it’s been about two years since a major storm hit the state.

“I think this storm’s been a long time coming,” Lamont said.


Sonner reported from Reno, Nevada. Associated Press reporters Julie Walker in New York, Ron Todt in Philadelphia, Travis Loller in Nashville, Tennessee, and Michael Sisak in New York contributed.

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