NEW YORK – The weather models agreed early and often that a powerful winter storm will affect millions of Americans over the weekend.
"We're living in interesting times,"said National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini. "We started seeing this storm develop about seven days ago in the models.” Uccellini said he has never seen so many models forecasting the same storm this far ahead of its arrival.
"More than 50 million people will be affected by the snow alone," Uccellini said. A blizzard warning is already in effect for Washington D.C., with a blizzard watch in effect for parts of New Jersey and New York.
The storm will coincide with a full moon, bringing the potential for "significant coastal flooding" from the Delaware Bay up the Jersey Coast to Long Island. Unlike with Sandy, however, which battered the the tri-state area for two full tidal cycles and flooded subways, generators and roadways, this storm appears to track along the coast, and not perpendicular to it.
"As of right now, the runs I’ve seen had high water in the (New York) harbor, of course, but nothing like what we saw during Sandy,” said Uccellini, who doesn't believe the subways are in danger of flooding, as of Thursday afternoon.
As for the track of the storm, "The heaviest snow should start falling in the mid-Atlantic late Friday or early evening and progress steadily up the coast" to the New York City area by morning. The exact arrival time will be come clearer once models are inside the 24-hour window.
The storm is also likely to wreak havoc in other parts of the country.
As the storm passes over southern states such as Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, there is the potential for a "severe weather outbreak," Uccellini said.