— BOSTON (AP) — Halfway through a merciful winter across the Northeast, a blizzard threatened to strike with a vengeance starting Friday, with up to 2 feet of snow forecast for much of New England.
From New Jersey to Maine, people stocked up on food and other storm supplies, and road crews readied salt and sand ahead of what forecasters warned could be a weather history-maker. Boston and Providence, R.I., called off school on Friday, and airlines canceled more than 500 flights and counting, with the disruptions certain to ripple across the U.S.
In Taunton, Mass., National Weather Service meteorologist Alan Dunham said southern New England has seen less than half its normal snowfall this season, but "we're going to catch up in a heck of a hurry," with 1 1/2 to 2 feet forecast.
"Everybody's going to get plastered with snow," he said.
The snow is expected to start Friday morning, with the heaviest amounts falling at night and into Saturday. Wind gusts could top 60 mph. Widespread power failures were feared, along with flooding in coastal areas still recovering from Superstorm Sandy in October.
New York City was expecting around 5 to 10 inches of snow. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said plows and 250,000 tons of salt were being put on standby.
"We hope forecasts are exaggerating the amount of snow, but you never can tell," he said.
A blizzard watch was posted for parts of New York's Long Island and portions of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, including Hartford, Conn., Providence and Boston.
In New England, it could prove to be among the top 10 snowstorms in history, and perhaps even break Boston's record of 27.6 inches, set in 2003, forecasters said. The storm is arriving just after the 35th anniversary of the blizzard of 1978, which paralyzed New England with more than 2 feet of snow and hurricane-force winds from Feb. 5-7.