A fall nor’easter is expected to spin off the East Coast into the weekend.
Air travel delays, power outages and beach erosion could result as the nor’easter lingers through Saturday, creating a soggy, blustery mess, particularly from New York City to Boston.
As winds began to pick up Thursday morning, the National Weather Service in Boston was already getting reports of trees and power lines down.
Winds will gust over 30 mph out of the northeast as they squeeze between the ocean storm and high pressure to the north.
Coastal areas will experience even more intense, damaging winds, with gusts to tropical-storm-force of at least 39 mph. Cape Cod in Massachusetts is under a high wind warning, as winds could reach up to 60 mph.
Air delays are only expected to get longer
Transit delays were already beginning to tick up Thursday morning in the Northeast because of the wind.
“Nor’easters — like this one — bring wind, low clouds and rain or snow to the big cities in the Northeast,” said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. “All of these weather events can slow air travel by themselves, but when combined in a nor’easter, air travel can grind to a halt.”
Expect delays at New York City and Boston airports, especially during peak travel times. Hourslong delays are possible Thursday and Friday at these major Northeast hubs.
• Thursday: The storm’s impact reaches its peak intensity around the evening.
• Friday: It slowly weakens as it sits and spins off the coast.
• Weekend: Conditions improve as the low moves away from the coast.
Coastal flooding is a significant concern
The most widespread impact from this strong storm will be along the beaches. Coastal flood advisories and watches stretch from Virginia to Massachusetts.
A surge of 1 to 3 feet over high tide can be expected over multiple high tides, creating moderate coastal flooding.
The highest water levels for Long Island, New York, and Cape Cod will be during Thursday evening’s high tide.
Significant beach erosion and large waves will also be of concern.
A dreary wet end to the week
Rain will be steady, with heavy downpours through the rest of the week from near New York City to Boston.
A flood watch is in place for southern Massachusetts, where 3 to 6 inches of rain could fall, with locally higher tallies over 8 inches.
Rhode Island, parts of Connecticut and Long Island will also receive several inches of rain.
All this rain and wind will make driving in the Northeast slow-going and dangerous at times. High-profile vehicles should take care in high winds.
Nor’easters aren’t just a winter event
We think of nor’easters as a winter event, Myers said. “But, they can happen in the fall.”
In both seasons, they are low pressure systems that move up the East Coast and intensify due to cold arctic air colliding with warmer air over the Gulf Stream.
In winter, temperatures associated with a nor ‘easter can be much more extreme than in the fall, which can lead to more intense storms and snow.
Even though this storm isn’t expected to be as intense as a winter nor’easter, it will still pack a punch.