© Kelly Keene
A significant snowstorm is expected, which can be compared to the 1978 blizzard. Snowfall could exceed two feet (.6 meters) in some areas.

The northeastern United States is preparing for a monster storm, which many are calling Nemo, expected on February 8, 2013. It could easily produce over two feet of snow (.6 meters) and wind gusts over 60 miles (96 km) per hour, causing zero visibility and bringing cities to a standstill.

In many ways, we are looking at an historic storm that could paralyze cities such as Boston, Providence, and Hartford. We're expecting blizzard conditions in eastern and southeastern Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Northeastern New Jersey, Long Island, southeastern Maine, and New York City.

Moderate to major coastal flooding is also possible. Two storm systems will phase together to create a large pressure gradient that will result in winds sustaining around 35-50 mph with gusts over 74 mph. Tonight is the last night to get ready for a significant snowstorm that can be compared to the 1978 blizzard.
© Google/NWS
Blizzard warnings are in effect for parts of the Northeast.

Two storms will merge together to form a potentially historic storm on February 8, 2013.

There are two storm systems that will eventually merge into one storm, which will trigger the heavy snow, strong winds, and storm surge across the northeast U.S.

One system is located in the southeastern U.S. where significant rainfall totals of more than one or two inches have occurred over the past 24 hours. This system contains a lot of Gulf moisture that will greatly contribute to the heavy precipitation that's expected to occur in the U.S. Northeast on Friday. This is a huge ingredient for a significant snowstorm because this area of low pressure will rapidly deepen as it interacts with storm #2 in the image above.
Rainfall totals on February 7, 2013 in the Southeast United States.
The other form of energy is located across Illinois and Indiana this evening. Behind this system is very cold air with temperatures well below freezing. "Storm #2″ as I will call it for referencing reasons only, will push to the east and merge with with the storm that is currently in the southeastern U.S. As they merge together, the pressure of the storm will drop and the winds will tighten up and increase.

Cold air will be be reinforced and the warm Gulf stream that travels northward along the eastern coast of the United States will help this system to grow in size and deepen. Storm #2, also considered an Alberta Clipper, will bring the cold temperatures to this region. With a lot of moisture, cold temperatures, and an area of low pressure "bombing" out at the same time and place, it can only spell major trouble across the U.S. Northeast.
© EarthSky Org
Cold temperatures and snow are associated with storm #2. It will merge into the storm in the Southeast U.S. and create a monster snowstorm for the Northeast.

Snowfall totals will be extremely high across the U.S. Northeast. Many areas could receive one to two feet of snow. Strong winds and blowing snow will make for near-zero visibility across the areas in the blizzard warning. Some wind gusts along the coast could exceed hurricane strength at 74 mph or higher. Along the Massachusetts coast, storm surge could approach two to four feet and cause major beach erosion and damage along the coast. Snow could fall as much as three to four inches per hour. If you live in a warned area in the Northeast, you should stay home and plan on losing electricity. (View animation.)

1978 Blizzard
© Boston NWS
Storm surge caused a lot of damage in the historic Blizzard of 1978.

The 1978 Blizzard caused major damage in the northeastern United States 35 years ago today. It resulted in $1.85 billion in damages (2010) and killed roughly 100 people. It paralyzed the northeastern coast of the U.S. and caused significant damage to beaches and homes. Back in the 1970s, weather forecasting was still young and had problems. In this case, the forecasts were really good in advance as meteorologists were able to predict that a blizzard would occur days in advance of the storm.

But the general public did not buy into the hype, and that was what created mass confusion, deaths, and left many people stranded in their cars without any heat or food. Snowfall totals exceeded 30 inches in some spots. Boston, Massachusetts recorded 27.1 inches of snow during the Blizzard of 1978. It is very possible that this developing storm could match the snowfall totals experienced in the 1978 storm Friday. The overall setup for this upcoming blizzard is similar to the 1978 blizzard as two storm systems (areas of low pressure) merged together off the northeast coast to create damaging winds, storm surge, and heavy snowfall. For images and a description of this entire event, check out Boston's NWS page.

© Weatherbell
GFS model indicating snowfall totals easily exceeding a foot of snow across the northeastern U.S.
Bottom line: Major snowstorm Nemo will develop Friday, February 8, 2013 across the northeastern United States. Snowfall totals could easily exceed two feet in some areas, especially near Boston, Massachusetts. Winds will be very strong with sustained winds of around 35-50 mph in the blizzard warning areas. Gusts could easily exceed hurricane force strength of 74 mph or higher. Residents are warned to be prepared for significant power outages.

Make sure you keep plenty of food and water inside your homes and even in your cars if you do plan on commuting. All motorists are urged to avoid the roads as visibility could be near zero thanks to the possibility of heavy, blowing snow. People along the coast can expect storm surge of one to four feet (about a meter) that could cause flooding and damage. Please follow your local National Weather Service offices for the latest updates. Stay warm, stay safe, and avoid the roads at all costs!