State of emergency declared in Pennsylvania, New Jersey as Midwest, Northeast rush to finalize snowstorm preparations

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
January 18, 2019, 9:05:55 PM EST

A major snowstorm will strike the Midwest and Northeast this weekend, dumping mass amounts of snow and creating treacherous travel conditions. Local officials warn communities to prepare ahead of the dangerous winter storm.

The National Weather Service (NWS) on Friday had winter storm watches and warnings in effect across the Northeast and Midwest.

AccuWeather is predicting blizzard conditions to wallop interior portions of the Northeast with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 40 inches.

PA winter storm 1-17-2019

An afternoon snow falls on West Park on the Northside of Pittsburgh Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Travel disruptions are already occurring as a result of the storm. Air travel is being affected ahead of the storm as several major hubs lie in the storm’s path, such as Chicago O’Hare, Chicago Midway and Detroit.

The storm’s biggest impact on air travel could come Saturday and Sunday as the storm is expected to move across the airports in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington and Baltimore.

An airplane slid off a runway at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, on Friday afternoon. There were no injuries and all passengers were being transported to the terminal, the airfield reported on Twitter. The airport was closed for several hours on Friday afternoon, but has since reopened.

omaha plane

A photo from the ariplane that slid off the runway at Eppley Airfield early Friday afternoon. (Photo/Ali Schwanke)

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency on Friday, as the winter storm approaches. The declaration will allow for increased assistance with storm-related needs.

"We'll be aggressive in managing this storm — snowfall rates could exceed 1-2 inches per hour. Our top concern is the safety of residents. Postpone travel if you can, and be aware of changing conditions," Wolf said in a tweet.

Pennsylvanian is imposing speed restriction and a ban on all commercial traffic on most interstates and the Pennsylvania Turnpike between noon on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

A state of emergency was also declared in New Jersey on Friday afternoon, ABC7 reported.

More than 300 flights had been canceled nationwide on Friday and another 1,990 delayed as of 1:10 p.m. EST. Another 240 had already been grounded for Saturday, according to flight-tracking service

Amtrak is modifying service and canceling train in the Northeast and Midwest ahead of the winter storm. The Capitol Limited, from Chicago to Washington, and the Lake Shoe Limited, from Chicago to New York, are canceled on Saturday, AP News reports.

Some school districts in South Dakota are canceling classes due to the approaching winter storm, according to AP News.

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The Michigan State Police (MSP) is encouraging residents and visitors to be extra cautious when going out in the extreme cold, a MSP press release from Thursday reads.

Michigan officials warn motorists to use caution when on the roads, as conditions will be icy.

"We are asking that Michiganders monitor their local weather reports and follow the appropriate steps to stay safe during this cold spell," Captain Emmitt McGowan said.

The Indiana State Police in Indianapolis will begin clearing abandoned vehicles from Interstates, State Roads and U.S. Highways in advance of the approaching weather system forecast for this weekend. This is common practice for incoming winter weather.

The plan is to begin removing vehicles left along the roadside Friday, Jan. 18, at the conclusion of afternoon rush hour, according to District Commander Lieutenant Jeffrey Payne.

"The safety of all motorists is our number one priority, we will closely monitor the weather and adjust manpower to provide a proper response," Payne said in the release.

PA snow 1-18-2019

Ian Moyer of Philadelphia cast his line into the Valley Creek for brown trout on a winter morning in Phoenixville, Pa., Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Due to the impending storm, many towns and cities are instituting a tow ban and parking ban ahead of time. For example, a parking ban will begin Saturday night in Waltham, Massachusetts, and West Hartford, Connecticut.

New York City is not taking any chances this time around after November's storm shut down the Tri-State Area, ABC7-NY Eyewitness News reports.

"We're doing more, sooner as a result of the November incident," Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Commissioner Joseph Esposito said.

The NYC Department of Sanitation had nearly 700 salt spreaders standing by for the overnight snowfall Friday as an even bigger storm is expected to move through on Saturday.

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said the city is planning for the worst-case scenario and not leaving anything to chance in the face of some unpredictable weather.

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