By David Ariosto
NEW YORK (CNN) — Two ferocious storm systems are expected to converge overnight across the Northeast and create what could be a historic blizzard for parts of the region.
A wintery blast churning across the country Thursday and a cold front barreling up and along the East Coast will unite, and potentially dump up as much as a foot of snow in New York and up to three feet in Boston.
“If you are on the highway and you are stuck, you are putting yourself in danger,” said CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers.
Boston could see snowfall of 2 to 3 inches per hour, and 24 inches within 24 hours, as frigid gusts swirl across the region. The system has already drawn comparisons to the so-called “Great Blizzard” of 1978, when thousands were stranded as fast-moving snow drifts blanketed highways and left several people dead.
A fleet of 600 snow removers will be manned by municipal workers and contractors in Boston as authorities gear up for what they say could be a 36-hour storm.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino called it “a very serious storm” and urged residents to use public transportation if they have to travel into the city.
“We are hearty New Englanders and used to these kinds of storms, but I also want to remind people to use common sense and stay off the streets,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents stocked up after authorities announced that public schools would not hold classes on Friday.
“They’re coming in buying shovels, ice melts and sleds,” said Atown Shipman, who works at Back Bay Hardware in Boston.
Massachusetts Emergency Management officials said Thursday that they were busy salting roadways in preparation for the incoming storm.
“Travel may become nearly impossible with blowing/drifting snow and near zero visibility during the height of the storm (Friday afternoon into Saturday morning),” the agency said in a statement. “Motorized vehicles are asked to stay off the roads if they can during the storm to allow snow plows to clear the roads.”
Hartford, Connecticut, could see record-breaking snowfall as well.
“We expect snow and then rain, and severe coastal flooding,” said CNN Meteorologist Sarah Dillingham.
Wind will also be a major concern. Gusts could reach 75 mph along Cape Cod and 55 mph in the Long Island Sound and cause coastal flooding, with tides rising about three to five feet.
As more miserable weather slams the region, those affected by Superstorm Sandy will be further hampered by high winds, cold temperatures and more beach erosion
Parts of the region are under a blizzard watch.