Are you in your bunker yet? Do you have your friend’s HBO Go password and a pantry filled with nonperishable goods that you will never eat?
If not, you best get to it because the storm is coming. It’s so big you can see it from space.
According to Slate, “From the Carolinas to New England, enough snow will fall in total to give every man, woman, and child in America 7,000 snowballs.”
Snow is already falling in Washington, D.C., and an inch or so might accumulate by the time the sun goes down. And it isn’t likely to stop until Sunday morning.
By the time the storm — which will also feature major winds and maybe some thundersnow — is done, the nation’s capital may be buried in more than two feet of snow. At 11 p.m., the D.C. Metro will close, and remain closed, until Monday, which is believed to be the longest pause in service ever.
New York City, with snow starting late Friday, is expected to get 18 to 24 inches of snow by the end of the weekend. The MTA told Politico that there were no plans to close the subway this weekend, unlike the last time a big storm was supposed to hit NYC last year … and ended up being completely underwhelming. [Update: Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York City on Saturday morning. The MTA announced it is suspending bus service at 12pm Saturday.]
Flights, on the other hand, are getting canceled like crazy. More than 6,000 flights have been delayed, and more than 3,000 have been canceled. Amtrak is running on a modified schedule this weekend and will try to keep the tracks clear enough during the storm to keep running. Given the expected severity of the storm, however, you might not want to count on the trains running on time — even on a reduced schedule.
Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers to stay off the roads and use public transportation whenever possible this weekend, as the tristate area will be under a variety of warnings and watches.
De Blasio also declared a winter weather emergency on Friday afternoon. It will last from early morning until midnight on Saturday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters today to look on the bright side. “This is not the worst forecast we’ve ever received.”
However, he added, “It is significant, and it should not be taken lightly.”
And remember: If you see anyone outside who looks like they need help or shelter, call 911 or 311.
There will be 579 salt spreaders coating the roads in the cities today, and 1,650 vehicles have been outfitted with plows for the days ahead. (And if you are curious about who is in charge of telling the city how many sanitation workers should suit up for war everytime a storm is coming, go read Gothamist’s profile of the Weather King of New York, Mitch. And if you want to know more about the person who is basically the orchestra conductor of NYC plows, go read am New York’s story on Shari Pardini.)
And don’t even try putting your trash out this weekend.
Now is the time to make sure your car isn’t in the way of any snowplows, too. The city is going to have nearly 100 tow trucks looking for vehicles parked in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If you’re desperate for a ride, there will probably still be taxis and Ubers and Lyfts milling around. Uber has to cap surge pricing at 3.5x during a state of emergency, per Verge, but in all places along the East Coast where there is no state of emergency, expect prices to be ridiculous. Lyft says it won’t do surge pricing at all if there’s a state of emergency — but that it also won’t let drivers get on the road during a travel ban.
If the heavy, wet snow doesn’t keep you inside, the heavy winds forecast for this weekend might. In the middle of the storm on Saturday afternoon and evening, 50 mph winds might mingle with the snow in the city and make it impossible to see outside — and create a perfect recipe for power outages and downed trees.
Coastal flooding is possible, too — thanks to a full moon and El Niño water temperatures — which could cause problems for NYC, New Jersey, Long Island, and other areas near the ocean. New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who was busy trying to rescue his presidential chances in New Hampshire, is headed back to his state for the storm. He had been getting a lot of criticism for not being back home already, something he has been dealing with a lot lately, but told WMUR on Thursday, “If I feel like it’s necessary for me to get down there, I will, but I’m not driving a plow truck, okay?”
If you still haven’t gone to get groceries, and suddenly feel like you probably should before tomorrow, good luck.
Philadelphia is also prepping for lots of snow, and its police department got ready by doing a “Hotline Bling” parody warning people not to try and save parking spots with cones, because they will find you.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Virginia, and other parts of the South, the storm has already caused a massive mess, which doesn’t augur well for the rest of the East Coast’s future. At least four drivers were killed in weather-related fatalities in North Carolina; other drivers reportedly died in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia. The North Carolina Highway Patrol says that nearly 1,000 cars crashed on Friday.
In other words, don’t drive. It’s a bad idea.
If you happened to be in a place that is not treating this weekend like Judgment Day, or are waiting for your snow allowance to arrive — or live in a place with no windows in New York and are afraid of looking outside in case the snow is really bad — Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is thinking of you.
His office is running a livestream of the snowstorm all weekend, clearly assuming that voters have been eagerly waiting for the American version of Norwegian reality TV, or at least a sequel to that age-old classic “That long YouTube video with the fireplace.” Judging from the … interesting music accompanying the livestream, it can also double as a playlist for your cabin-fever party. It is not clear how long it will be until people start to play pranks on the National Mall where the camera is pointing.
This post has been updated.