New nor’easter strikes with 50 million under winter storm watch or warning

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More than 50 million people from Philadelphia to Boston are under winter storm warnings and watches that have been issued across a swath of the Northeast.

The second nor’easter in a span of a week is dropping snow Wednesday across parts of the storm-weary East Coast, already pummeled by a deadly “bomb cyclone” last weekend.

More than 50 million people from Maryland to Maine are under winter storm warnings and watches. More than 2,000 flights have been canceled Wednesday.

The storm could bring heavy, wet snow and coastal flooding to the northern mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, possibly resulting in power outages and dangerous commutes Wednesday.

Track the storm here

A few of inches of snow already have been reported in parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. But peak snowfall is expected midday into the evening.

“This is just starting,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Wednesday morning in Ridgewood, New Jersey. “Don’t wake up, look outside and say, ‘Oh, we’ve got mist.’ No, this is an all-day snow event.”

The storm is expected to pack wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph. While a far cry from the 90-mph gusts recorded over the weekend, the strong winds could impede efforts to restore power in the region, where at least 100,851 customers were without electricity on Tuesday, according to power companies in the mid-Atlantic to New England.

How severe will this storm be?

It’s not just the snow to be on the watch for. The National Weather Service in Boston tweeted that “the biggest concern is downed limbs, trees, power lines,” with strong wind gusts and other risks such as lowered visibility and hazardous travel.

Snowfall is expected to be intense in some areas Wednesday afternoon, setting the stage for dangerous driving conditions.

In New England, Interstate 95 could be a key dividing line, with points west due to get as much as 2 feet of snow, and points east getting rain and lower amounts of snow, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.

By the afternoon, areas west of I-95 in Massachusetts could see snow fall heavily — as fast as 2 to 3 inches per hour.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged residents to use caution then.

“Everyone should expect a long and challenging commute this evening,” Baker said during a news conference Wednesday morning. “Stay off the roads during the height of the storms this afternoon if you can.”

How will it affect major cities?

New York City could see 6 to 12 inches of snow, but public schools will be open, officials said. The heaviest precipitation will occur Wednesday morning into the evening, according to the National Weather Service’s New York office.

Philadelphia could get about 8 to 12 inches of snow, according to snowfall estimates from the National Weather Service, which advised against unnecessary travel after 7 a.m. City schools will be closed Wednesday, and all after-school activities canceled.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a state of emergency for several counties in preparation for the storm.

The Boston area may see a slushy 2 to 6 inches of snow, with areas as little as 20 miles inland perhaps getting 10 or more inches. But if the rain/snow line moves farther east, Boston’s snow accumulation would rise.

“It’s a very dicey call for eastern MA. … There’s going to be a sharp line from little/no snow to several inches of accumulation,” the National Weather Service in Boston tweeted.

How is it affecting travel?

Much of the 2,300 flight cancellations involve major airports in the Northeast, such as Newark, John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, Boston and Philadelphia, according to tracking site FlightAware.

As for ground travel, New York City’s Office of Emergency Management issued a hazardous travel advisory urging New Yorkers to “take mass transit if possible and allow for extra travel time.”

Amtrak has also modified some of its services between Washington and Boston.

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