By Ed Payne
(CNN) — For the second time in three days, the Northeast is getting socked with a pile of heavy, wet snow — a foot or more of it in many places.
Boston’s morning rush hour is expected to be a mess as the winter system moved in overnight.
“This storm may have a major impact on the Wednesday morning commute,” the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said. “Heavy snow will continue to fall through the commute, with rates of up to 1 inch per hour possible.”
Snowfall will taper off during the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Accumulations of 8 to 12 inches will be the norm. And more than a foot of snow is predicted through Wednesday for much of Upper New York state, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
New York’s Central Park, which set a record on Monday with 8 inches of fresh snow, could see another 6 inches Wednesday.
And just to keep things interesting, about a quarter inch of ice is expected too.
“It’s going to be a mess,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued a state of emergency. Christie advised residents to drive carefully or stay home.
On the New Jersey emergency management office’s Twitter feed, meteorologist Gary Szatowski said the National Weather Service’s “reasonable worst case scenario” for parts of that state and others nearby call for 0.75 inches of ice accumulation that could lead to as many as five days of power outages.
As Szatowski said: “Some would call that catastrophic.”
But the ice is coming to other parts of the country too.
Freezing rain warnings have been issued for large parts of Virginia and the Washington metropolitan area, where trees, power lines and roads could be coated by early Wednesday.
But this is a big storm and it likes a big party.
Storm warnings were posted from central Kansas to southern Maine. CNN’s weather unit estimates that 120 million people were in the system’s path.
Mess in the heartland
As the system pulled into the Northeast, it left a mess across the Plains and the Midwest.
Officials in Kansas blamed the snowy weather for the deaths of two people in a car accident in Crawford County.
In Topeka, more than 13 inches had fallen by early Wednesday, the weather service said.
Road crews were working 12-hour shifts to clear it, but with so much snow, where do you put it?
“There’s actually no place to plow the snow,” Ron Raines, Topeka’s street maintenance supervisor, told CNN affiliate WIBW. “We’re forced to windrow it into the middle of the street.”
The city then pays private contractors to remove it from the central business district.
A Southwest plane at Kansas City International Airport hit a snow bank as the airliner was taxing to the gate, according to airline spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger. Southwest said all customers were safe and at the terminal.
In Arkansas, the prospect of freezing rain spurred Gov. Mike Beebe to tell nonessential state employees to stay home Tuesday.
CNN affiliate KATV reported that tens of thousands of people in the state would be without power through at least Wednesday morning. Most of those customers were with Entergy Arkansas, which reported 40,000 outages. Temperatures were going to reach a low of 28 degrees in Little Rock, the station reported.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued a state of emergency.
“Our state agencies did a great job … protecting Kansans during these difficult weather conditions,” Brownback said. “We will be working to identify residents and communities in need of assistance and KDOT will be on the roads dealing with blowing snow due to windy conditions.”
Kansas City, Missouri, officials told business to stagger start times on Wednesday to make morning traffic easier, something the city has never done before, said a spokesman for the city’s public works department.
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry renewed a waiver that makes it easier for trucks to transport propane through his state to others that have declared a propane emergency.
The weather will mean headaches not just for those hoping to hit the road, but also those trying to fly.
More than 2,000 flights were canceled within, into or out of the United States by Wednesday morning, according to FlightAware.com. That’s on top of the 1,800 flights called off Tuesday.
Winter’s one-two punch this week may be just a warm-up act for what’s to come. Another storm is brewing and the third one may be the worst yet, forecasters said.
Myers, the CNN meteorologist, said that a massive nor’easter could bear down early next week.
“This is the starter,” he said of the current blast of snow, “the appetizer to what’s coming — which is a major nor’easter coming on Monday.”
CNN’s Greg Botelho and Tom Watkins contributed to this report.
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