A winter storm warning has gone into effect for the tri-state, with Storm Team 4 now predicting up to 10 to 15 inches of snow for much of the area.
The storm was moving in a bit sooner than expected, and snow totals could now reach up to 10 to 15 inches in New York City, northern and central New Jersey, lower Hudson Valley, Connecticut and Long Island.
Along the Jersey Shore, about 3 to 6 inches of snow is expected, while areas north and west of the city will get about 6 to 10 inches.
In Suffolk County, a blizzard warning has been issued, which means there will be blowing and drifting of snow and whiteout conditions for three consecutive hours.
New York City public schools will be closed Thursday for the storm, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday evening.
All New Jersey state offices are closed for non-essential employees, Gov. Christie says. In Connecticut, Gov. Malloy asked non-essential employees to stay home Thursday.
The storm is expected to cripple travel by ground and air, with conditions deteriorating rapidly as the rate of snowfall increases over the course of the morning. Over 2,000 flights across the U.S. were canceled for Thursday, including more than 200 each at LaGuardia, Newark and Kennedy airports, according to FlightAware.com.
According to the National Weather Service, snow could fall at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour, with more than 2 inches per hour possible in spots. Wind gusts are expected to reach up to 35 mph, with the strongest gusts along the coast, where meteorologists say near-blizzard conditions are possible.
Visibility is expected to be only a half to a quarter mile at times, making for hazardous travel conditions early Thursday through the afternoon. Snow is expected to begin falling overnight, with the heaviest snow likely from 7 a.m. through 1 p.m., Storm Team 4 says.
Widespread power outages are also possible as snow weighs on tree limbs and power lines. The threat for power outages will be less where temperatures are mostly below 30 degrees during the snow, meteorologists say.
New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said at an afternoon news briefing the storm was expected to be extremely dangerous and the city was preparing accordingly. Earlier, the agency said that it would assign 2,400 workers per shift to 12-hour shifts starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Sixteen hundred plows are on standby and nearly 700 salt spreaders will be pre-treating roads and sidewalks ahead of the storm. Alternate side parking is suspended in New York City Thursday. Meter rules remain in effect.
The storm comes on the tail end of a springlike Wednesday, when some tri-state areas saw record-breaking temperatures. The mercury climbed to 62 degrees in Central Park by early afternoon, breaking the previous 61-degree record for Feb. 8 set in 1965. Newark Airport and LaGuardia also beat records set in 1965, with temperatures reaching 64 degrees and 61 degrees, respectively.
Storm Team 4 says that after the winter storm passes, temperatures will drop into the 20s on Friday. Windy weather will make it feel even colder.
Temperatures will warm a little this weekend, with highs in the 40s under mostly cloudy skies. Sprinkles are possible Saturday and rain is likely Sunday.