Winter weather: More heavy snow blankets the Northeast the weekend before Christmas as officials urge cautious travel

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CNN
 — 

After a nor’easter dropped more than a foot of snow across many parts of interior New England, more is on its way Saturday as officials warn of dangerous travel conditions the weekend before Christmas.

The storm – part of a weather system that upended several communities in the South with deadly tornadoes and grueling power outages earlier this week – has also left thousands in the dark as it moved in over the Northeast, where temperature lows are now below freezing throughout.

The heavy snow is expected to persist through Saturday across New York and New England, including parts of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, forecasters at the National Weather Service said. More than 5 million people are under winter weather alerts – winter weather advisories, winter storm warnings, and lake-effect snow warnings – from New York to Maine on Saturday morning. 

“Travel conditions will be dangerous at times, and scattered power outages are anticipated,” the weather service warned.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel.

“Rain will change to snow, making for tough travel later this afternoon and tonight,” Hochul said Friday. “New Yorkers should remain alert and monitor the forecast throughout the day today, especially in the North Country and areas along Lakes Erie and Ontario.”

The heavy, wet snow fell rapidly on Friday, tearing down trees and power lines which led to outages across Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New York. Forecasters have been pointing out that places with higher elevations were more likely to see heavier snow.

Vermont is currently suffering the most outages per capita, as nearly 40,000 homes and businesses – roughly 10% of the state’s total – remained without electricity as of 4 a.m. ET Saturday, according to Poweroutage.us.

State police in Vermont said officers responded to a multitude of car crashes Friday and advised drivers to slow down. Some roads were also closed due to the storm impact.

Over a 36-hour period, 24.5 inches of snow fell in the Vermont town of Wilmington as well as more than 19 inches in Landgrove and Ludlow, the weather service said.

In the same time frame, about 20 inches fell in Rensselaerville, New York, roughly 25 miles west of Albany, the weather service said. To the east, nearly 19 inches of snow piled up in Savoy, Massachusetts. in New Hampshire, the city of Claremont saw 17 inches of snow.

Most heavy snowfall – a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour – is expected to end Saturday night, with snow showers possibly persisting through Sunday. Snow totals in Maine could reach up to 2 feet, the weather service said early Saturday. The Northeast is expected to be clear of the storm by the end of the weekend.

As towns with higher elevations face increased snowfall, a separate storm could bring heavy snow to areas downwind of major lakes, particularly Lakes Erie and Ontario.

“We are watching two different weather events right now – one producing rain and snow this morning for most of the state, and the other has the potential to bring several feet of snow in the Tug Hill Plateau and areas along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario,” said Jackie Bray, the commissioner of New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

Plus, up to 2 feet of snow can accumulate in areas near or south of Buffalo, New York. “These snow bands are likely to be very narrow and lead to drastically changing conditions over a short distance,” the weather service added.

While residents face continued snow and cold temperatures in the Northeast, other parts of the US have also been confronting winter weather.

More than 14,000 homes and businesses in Minnesota remained without power as of early Saturday, largely in the east-central portion of the state, according to Poweroutage.us, following this week’s earlier blizzard conditions across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

“Snow showers are gradually coming to an end across the region with only light scattered snow showers expected through Saturday morning,” the weather service said.

Elsewhere, the same storm system hitting the Northeast delivered tornadoes earlier this week to several southern states. Dozens of tornadoes were reported across Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma since Tuesday.

In Louisiana, three people – including a mother, her 8-year-old son and a 56-year-old woman – died when tornadoes rolled through their homes.

Another tornado in northern Louisiana traveled through the town of Farmerville was rated an EF-3, with 140 mph winds, according to NWS. At least 20 people were injured as the tornado demolished parts of residential areas, according to Farmerville Police Detective Cade Nolan.



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