Boston Common is buried in white. Manhattan is a breathing a sigh of relief. Parts of the New England coastline are being whipped by near hurricane-force winds and waves.
Welcome to the blizzard of 2015.
“We’re hunkered down with food, shelter and water,” said Rafi Menachem, a financial consultant who lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, near Boston. “I’m worried about electricity.”
Menachem’s wife is a doctor at Boston Medical Center. She’s sleeping at work and won’t be back home until Wednesday, maybe later.
Even weather-toughened New Englanders are paying attention to this storm. You almost have to when the National Weather Service is throwing out terms like “crippling” and “potentially historic” when talking about it.
Just a bit to the south, New York City looked nothing like its normal bustling self early Tuesday. Schools are closed, and city officials shut down public transit.
It cleared the roads and let snowplows do their jobs.
Snow is falling 2 to 4 inches an hour at times and is especially heavy along the coast.
Conditions eased in New York and New Jersey early Tuesday, as the National Weather Service discontinued the blizzard warning for most of those two states.
Folks can still expect blizzard conditions from eastern Long Island, New York, to Maine.
The forecast also improved a bit for Boston, which was originally expecting up to 30 inches of snow. It’s now expecting 15 to 25 inches, and in some cases a bit more.
Up to 58 million people could be put into the deep freeze. And the storm could have a far-reaching economic impact, even beyond the region directly hit.
States of emergency are in place in seven states across the region — Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Flying into and out of the Northeast is a non-starter.
More than 4,500 flights have been canceled for Tuesday, the flight-tracking website Flightaware.com said. That’s on top of 2,800 scrubbed Monday. Hundreds more have already been canceled for Wednesday.
The hardest-hit airports were in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Boston’s Logan Airport won’t reopen until Wednesday.
The major U.S. airlines are offering fee-free rebooking of flights to and from the Northeast through Tuesday.
For some travelers, it was touch and go. Ricardo Canadinhas looked through an ice-coated window on his Virgin Atlantic flight before takeoff. He could barely see. “#isthissafe,” he tweeted.
Amtrak said it was suspending Northeast Regional and Acela Express services between New York and Boston for Tuesday because of severe weather.
Other Amtrak train routes in the region will operate at reduced frequencies, the rail line said.
“It is no joke to have people stranded on a highway. We’ve gone through that before,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Monday. “It is frightening how quickly a simple trip to the supermarket can wind up being very dangerous.”
Connecticut and Massachusetts also put travel bans in place. Violating the ban can set you back $500 in Massachusetts.
In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency. Cars left parked on snow emergency routes will be towed and owners ticketed, he said.
“It’s going to be the kind of night where the best thing anybody can do is stay inside,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday evening.
The storm warnings seemed to impress even the most jaded Northeasterner.
Groceries flew off store shelves from Brooklyn to Bangor.
Michelle Thompson, a professor who lives in New York, found little left at a Greenwich Village grocery store.
“These are the sorts of supplies New Yorkers need,” she said, gazing at the empty shelves. “Apparently, fresh bread is imperative, as well eggs. Don’t forget the dried pasta and sauce!”
It was the same story at the Star Market, where Menachem shops in Boston.
“A majority of the produce, deli meats, eggs, milk and bread were all gone,” he said.
New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said his force was well-prepared, with a fleet of vehicles equipped with tire chains and large SUVs capable of traversing snowy streets.
“I want everyone to understand that we are facing — most likely — one of the largest snowstorms in the history of this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
That’s saying something. In 2006, 26.9 inches of snow fell on the city.
New York state has at least 1,806 plows and more than 126,000 tons of salt to spray onto roads across the region.
The National Guard also was positioning six dozen personnel and 20 vehicles throughout the state.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said there was no doubt his city would be slammed. It has 700 pieces of snow-moving equipment and 35,000 tons of salt ready, he said.
A storm like this means something different to school kids. For them, it’s a snow day.
Classes have been called off in hundreds of school districts, including New York City, Boston and Philadelphia.
Despite facing a storm of epic proportions, let’s face it, the Northeast knows all about snow.
A little bit of white stuff isn’t going to spoil things.
In Times Square, a few brave souls were still slipping and sliding through the slush to snap a selfie or two.
Steve Nogueira, a retired meteorologist who lives in Taunton, Massachusetts, south of Boston, said the storm’s impressive, but he and his wife are ready for it.
“It’s pretty wild out here right now, blowing and drifting,” he said. “We’re pretty used to it. We have food, milk and beer. … We also have a gas stove, so if we lose power we can still cook.”
“We’ll get through it. We’re New Englanders. We’ve done it before.”