Across the Northeast, roughly 16 million people were under some type of winter weather alert Saturday night. Of those, seven million were under blizzard warnings.
Blizzard warnings are expected to remain in effect through Sunday morning for eastern Massachusetts and most of Maine.
A blizzard, by the National Weather Service’s definition, requires blowing or falling snow, winds of at least 35 miles per hour, and visibility of a quarter-mile or less for at least three hours.
Light to moderate snowfall will continue into the evening, with snow expected to end in the eastern part of Massachusetts by 11 p.m., the governor’s office said.
Parts of eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island saw more than two feet of snow and blizzard conditions, and a few areas in Massachusetts saw hurricane-force wind gusts, with Cape Cod getting the strongest gales.
“This is coming down hard and fast, and so it’s been historic,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu told CNN Saturday evening.
“Hunker down for 24 hours, and sometime tomorrow, you’ll be able to go back out and resume some of your normal activities,” Tom Guthlein, Rhode Island’s acting director of emergency management, said early Saturday.
Some areas crush snowfall records
In New Jersey’s Atlantic City, howling wind whipped snow sideways earlier Saturday, and a CNN crew there could barely see anything a block away. The city crushed its all-time January snowfall record by Saturday, reaching a staggering monthly total of 33.2 inches of snow. It had received about 19.2 inches prior to the storm and added another 14 inches Saturday, CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said Saturday afternoon. The prior monthly record of 20.3 inches was set in January 1987.
The city’s 14 inches of snow Saturday also beat its previous record for the calendar date, which was set in 2014 at 7.3 inches.
As the storm pummeled through, several other areas crushed previous January 29 snowfall records, including New York’s Central Park, which recorded 7.3 inches, beating the previous record of 4.7 inches set in 1904, and Philadelphia, which saw 5.8 inches of snow Saturday, beating the previous record of 5 inches, also set in 1904.
Up to 2 feet of snow could fall by Sunday morning from Long Island through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, CNN forecasters said.
Power outages in Massachusetts, with street flooding along coasts
In some parts of the East Coast, strong winds led to power outages.
On Nantucket, floodwater covered Easy Street and lapped up against some homes Saturday morning, video recorded by Blair Perkins showed.
High winds and snow pushed over several trees across the island while some areas were out of power because of downed wires, Nantucket Fire Chief Stephen Murphy told CNN on Saturday afternoon. Several roadways were also closed because of flooding, the chief said.
“We do have coastal flooding when we get these kinds of storms, but today was pretty intense,” Jason Graziadei, an editor at the local newsletter Nantucket Current, told CNN on Saturday afternoon. “People (are) kind of just hunkering down out here.”
Scituate, a coastal Massachusetts town southeast of Boston, had some mild to moderate flooding at high tide Saturday morning, with water splashing over seawalls, town administrator Jim Boudreau told CNN.
High winds reached more than 70 mph, Boudreau said Saturday afternoon.
“When you have wind like that with the snow, the snow is almost like needles coming down hitting people,” he said. “Visibility has been near zero, we’re plowing the roads as quickly as we can, as fast as we get the snow off the roads the wind is blowing it back in.”
In Marshfield, another coastal Massachusetts town, about 4 feet of water came over the seawall at high tide, town administrator Michael A. Maresco told CNN.
In Quincy, a city just south of Boston, the mayor warned people to stay indoors, saying even snowplow operators wouldn’t be able to drive when the snowfall is heaviest.
“There’s no way plows are going to operate when they can’t see in front of their face,” Mayor Thomas Koch told CNN Saturday. “Even after the storm is done, we’ll be plowing for many hours afterward, to keep up with the wind blowing it.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation issued a travel ban for large trucks on interstate highways for Saturday because of the severe winter weather forecast.
Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm and told CNN Saturday afternoon the state is expecting to record some of its highest snow accumulation totals through the storm.
The blizzard-like conditions led Amtrak to cancel train service on Saturday for various lines, including Acela service between Washington, DC, and Boston as well as regional service between Boston and New York, the company said Friday.
Snow piles up fast on Long Island and in New Jersey
The governors of New York and New Jersey also declared states of emergency.
As a precaution, all Long Island Rail Road service was suspended Saturday morning, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.
Snowplow crews will work throughout Saturday night in Suffolk County on Long Island, but freezing temperatures and lingering snowfall will complicate efforts to clear the roads into Sunday, County Executive Steve Bellone said.
In Nassau County, where officials said snowfall totals ranged from 10 to 18 inches, County Executive Bruce Blakeman said Saturday strong wind gusts were expected later in the evening, and urged residents to stay home.
“Snow is dangerous, but wind is more dangerous,” Blakeman said, adding there had been more than 50 car accidents by Saturday morning but roads later in the day remained virtually empty besides snowplows.
“If everybody stays off the roads, lets our workers do their job, by noon tomorrow I think we’ll have this under control, and I think the roads will be a lot safer,” he said.
He asked residents to be patient and stay off covered roads.
“It’ll take us a few days to dig out of this one, and that’s probably what’s the realistic scenario,” Murphy said.
Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas and elsewhere
The governors of Maryland and Virginia issued states of emergency in their states.
By Saturday evening, parts of coastal Virginia received at least nine inches, and coastal parts of Maryland and Delaware received more than 12 inches.
Parts of interior North Carolina and South Carolina got more than 2 inches of snow, with higher amounts in North Carolina’s mountains.
CNN’s Brynn Gingras, Brian Todd, Artemis Moshtaghian, Liam Reilly, Tyler Mauldin, David Williams, Haley Brink and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.