‘Historic and destructive’ storm could hit Massachusetts

[Breaking news published at 4:01 p.m. ET]

(CNN) — The National Weather Service has upgraded its blizzard watch to a blizzard warning for the area from northern New Jersey through southern Connecticut, including New York City. Twenty to 30 inches of snow is possible with winds gusting 55 to 65 mph. The Weather Service says whiteout conditions will make travel extremely dangerous in the affected area. The blizzard warning is in effect from 1 p.m. Monday through Tuesday, with the worst conditions expected from late Monday evening through midday Tuesday.

[Original story published at 3:25 p.m. ET]

A potentially “historic and destructive” winter storm and blizzard will likely hit areas of Massachusetts beginning Monday night, dumping heavy snow and bringing strong winds, state emergency officials said Sunday.

Areas of New York, including the New York City metropolitan area, and the city of Boston are in the storm’s path. Coastal New Jersey and parts of New England will also be affected, the National Weather Service said. The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency tweeted Sunday that the state would be under a blizzard watch Monday.

The storm isn’t predicted to let up until Wednesday morning. Snow in the southeast part of Massachusetts could morph into a period of freezing rain. And a major nor’easter is likely to develop on Monday and move up the northeast coast, forecasters said.

Travel across Massachusetts during the storm could be impossible and life-threatening, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency It’s unclear just how much snow might be on the way but the National Weather Service is saying 1 to 2 feet is possible.

Christine Carew, a sales associate at Charles Street Supply in Boston, said customers have been coming into the hardware store since it opened Sunday to grab last-minute snow supplies.

Parents and their children have popped in to buy sleds and others are picking up shovels, ice melt and snow brushes.

“This is kind of typical,” she told CNN about Boston getting a lot of snow. “We’re more prepared for it. We know it’s going to happen.”

There’s little chance the store will be closed tomorrow, no matter how hard it snows. The manager, she said, lives above the store.

Eight counties in Massachusetts are already under a winter storm watch: Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden, Worcester, Barnstable, Nantucket and Dukes.

A blizzard watch is in effect for Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth counties. Barnstable, Nantucket and Dukes counties also face a high wind watch.

Derek and Jim Missert have lived in the Boston area for years. On Sunday they prepared to ride out the storm by being as prepared as they usually are, with plenty of food and water on hand. Jim Missert lives outside the city so he expects to lose power and has a generator. Derek Missert expects that he’ll not lose electricity as he works from home in the city.

There could be coastal flooding in the state starting early Tuesday with pockets of major flooding on east-facing coast lines, the state emergency agency said.

Drifting snow in Massachusetts will reduce visibility and people should be careful because the storm could bring down utility poles and wires, officials warned. Widespread power outages are likely, they said.

And it could get worse. Damaging winds, possibly approaching hurricane force — between 60 and 70 mph — could blow on Cape Cod. Significant beach erosion is also likely on the eastern shorelines, state emergency officials said.

New York City, Long Island and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut are also under a blizzard watch for Monday afternoon through Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to prepare immediately for the storm, saying they should plan for “major disruptions” during Monday and Tuesday morning commutes. Roads could be closed and power could go out, he said in a press release Sunday, and New Yorkers need to look out for downed power lines and tree limbs.

He directed all state agencies to prepare. New York has at least 1,806 plows and more than 126,000 tons of salt to spray on roads across the region. The National Guard will also have six dozen personnel and 20 vehicles stationed throughout the state starting on Monday morning.

The mayor of Danbury, Connecticut, Mark Boughton, recently made the news for creating the popular Twitter hashtag “#Icezilla” when a major storm hit his area.

He tweeted Sunday that he would wait for weather models Monday before coming up with a name for whatever was in store for the state.

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