The National Weather Service warned that the nor'easter could deliver up to a foot of snow in parts of New York, Pennsylvania and northern New England, with hurricane-strength winds possible near Cape Cod, Massachusetts. There were more than 150,000 customers without power in the D.C. area as of 4 a.m. Friday.
Like the powerful storm that slammed the East Coast on January 4, meteorologists are describing this new nor'easter as a "bomb cyclone". The combination of astronomical high tides, astorm surge of 3 to 5 feet, storm surge, and waves of up to 30 feet just just offshore, is already inundating the coastline with water levels well above normal tide levels, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
In fact, record coastal flooding is anticipated in Boston and other parts of eastern MA, which is leading the National Weather Service to come out with statements that it rarely, if ever, issues.
"I can't stress this enough: This is not a snowstorm, but it's a heck of a storm, and people need to take it seriously", Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said at a news conference Thursday night.
Downed trees were seen in the Washington D.C. area on Friday morning and high winds are expected to continue for much of the day, making Friday possibly the USA capital city's windiest day since Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
"We are already experiencing downed trees and limbs", Brockton, Massachusetts Mayor Bill Carpenter said mid-morning Friday on Twitter.
Moderate coastal flooding is likely at high tide - around midday Friday - along the shoreline and again about midnight, he said. "This an extreme weather event; one that rivals the Dec 11-12 1992 nor'easter, March 7 2013 coastal storm and April 1 1997 nor'easter". "Be prepared for power outages, drive with care".
"This could be another storm with prolonged onshore flooding", said Paul Walker, a meteorologist with Accuweather, a private forecasting service. Areas along eastern Long Island and eastern MA could get 4 to 5 inches of rain from Thursday evening through Saturday. Parts of eastern Long Island and eastern MA could get up to 5 inches of rain through Saturday.
Already, 2 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with winds gusting over 100 miles per hour.
The Danbury and Bridgeport areas are forecasted to get between three and three-and-a-half inches of rain from the storm.
There is a chance that some of the snow could mix all the way down to the coast by later Friday afternoon from Philadelphia to New York City.