A coastal storm is expected to batter the New York City region and Long Island with strong winds and heavy snow Friday night and Saturday morning.
And after days of uncertainty about the path and severity of the storm, forecasts are starting to settle on as much as a foot of snow for the New York City area.
"There is a good chance that New York City can even see up to a foot, especially if heavy banding does properly set up over the area," NWS meteorologist Tiffany Fortier told WNYC/Gothamist Friday morning, adding the storm has shifted further west, with the bulk of it expected to hit around 10 p.m. Friday.
"It seems like most of your heaviest snowfall is going to be more toward Suffolk County, Long Island, and then into southeast Connecticut," Fortier said.
The National Weather Service also warns of wind gusts reaching up to 50 miles per hour as well as coastal flooding in some areas.
Because the storm is still forming and New York City is on the western edge of its predicted path, meteorologists said Thursday that the effect on the five boroughs won’t be clearer until a few hours before it is expected to hit the region.
More than 200 flights were already canceled Friday morning as the first flurries started to fall in the area. La Guardia announced 148 cancellations, JFK had 69 and Newark Liberty had 76 before 9 a.m. Friday.
Mayor Eric Adams is expected to brief the press on storm preparations Friday afternoon. The sanitation department issued a snow alert, effective at 4 p.m. Friday when the real precipitation is expected to begin. Snow is expected to fall through the night and into Saturday afternoon.
The ultimate shape of the storm depends on complex variables as several fronts are combining to produce it. While Long Island is expected to get the bulk of the weather, with snowfall forecasts upwards of 12 inches, the five boroughs are right on its western border where a few small changes in the weather could mean a big difference to people on the ground.
“A shift to the west by 25 miles could bring that heavier snow right into the city, a shift to the east by 25 miles could result in even less amounts,” Argianas said.
For Long Island residents, that could mean potential power outages due to heavy winds taking down electrical lines. A cold front expected on Sunday would also freeze any precipitation in place.
One of the reasons the storm has been so difficult to predict is because of changing weather patterns due to climate change – and some researchers say similar, hard-to-predict storms could become more common in the future. That’s because a “polar vortex” at the Arctic Circle typically traps cold air near the north pole. While rising global temperatures are resulting in milder winters overall, Dr. Judah Cohen, director of Seasonal Forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, said that vortex is being disrupted like a top being knocked off-kilter, and spurring more sudden and harsher cold snaps.
“It slows down, it starts to wobble, it starts to meander, it's not sitting in one place,” Cohen said. “And I like to say, where the polar vortex goes, so goes the cold air.”
This story has been updated with the latest information.