NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A winter that has largely spared the Northeast thus far is about to arrive with gusto: a storm the National Weather Service called "potentially historic" could dump 2 feet or more of snow between New York and Boston.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning from Monday afternoon through midnight Tuesday for the Tri-State area.
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Blizzard conditions with heavy snow and powerful winds are possible in New York City starting Monday and into Tuesday, and snow should arrive in some areas before daybreak -- just in time for the start of the work week.
"I want everyone to understand that we are facing most likely one of the largest snowstorms in the history of this city, in the recorded history of this city," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Blizzard Warning Issued As Major Snowstorm Takes Aim At Tri-State Area
In an afternoon news conference Sunday, de Blasio said the Nor'easter has the potential to dump up to 3 feet of snow and could produce the record highest snow total for New York City in history.
The mayor held up a list of the city's top 10 snowstorms and said this one could land at the top of the list that goes back to 1872.
De Blasio urged New Yorkers that now is the time to prepare for this storm.
"Prepare for something worse than we have seen before," de Blasio said. "Prepare for the worst and we'll get through this together."
The National Weather Service is forecasting general snowfall of up to 3 feet with winds of 20 to 40 miles per hour and gusts up to 65 miles per house, causing blizzard conditions.
"This will be the strongest storm of the year," said National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Hurley. "This Nor'easter is going to produce a wide swath of snowfall.''
CBS2 Meteorologist Elise Finch said Tri-State area residents could expect to see light snowfall starting early Monday morning.
The region could see 1 to 3 inches by sunset with heavier snow beginning around 8 p.m., CBS2 Meteorologist Lonnie Quinn reported.
The brunt of the storm will then move in overnight around 12 a.m. and stick around through Tuesday afternoon. The snow will taper off between 3 and 6 p.m. Tuesday.
In total, areas far west of New York City could see about 6 to 12 inches of snow, while New York City, its immediate suburbs and Nassau County could be hit with 12 and 24 inches of snow and out in Suffolk County residents could see upwards of 24 inches of snow, Quinn reported.
The New York City Sanitation Department has issued a snow alert starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, meaning crews, salt spreaders and plows are being readied for any snow that may fall in the city.
Blizzard Warning Issued As Major Snowstorm Takes Aim At Tri-State Area
Mayor de Blasio said all necessary city agencies are already working together to tackle the storm and are in a "state of high alert," WCBS 880's Monica Miller reported.
The sanitation department has all hands on deck with 2,400 employees working per shift on 12-hour shifts.
De Blasio said nearly 500 salt spreaders will be out treating roads ahead of the storm. Once at least 2 inches of snow has fallen, the city's 2,100 snowplows will be deployed.
"They are the first of New York's first responders so please let them get their job done," said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. "Please don't tailgate behind the vehicles. We really need to be out there. This is going to be a difficult storm for us to fight."
Emergency pothole crews are already out making emergency repairs to city roads.
Alternate side parking rules will be suspended for Monday and Tuesday, de Blasio said. Garbage collection has also been suspended so that crews can focus on snow clearing efforts.
With the snow expected to start falling late Monday morning, the MTA is preparing for a messy evening commute with expected delays and cancellations, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.
"If they see that a lot of their buses are getting stuck then they're going to have to start to reduce service, particularly starting with the articulated buses which often have the hardest time maneuvering in the snow," said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
The MTA released a statement Sunday night urging residents to stay home if at all possible and that if residents do need to travel they should plan on returning home early.
"New York City Transit will store trains underground starting Monday during the pm peak period to protect the subway car fleet from the elements. New York City Transit stores trains underground on express tracks, so this will impact express service at night and through the overnight hours," the statement read in part. "Personnel are in place to clear platforms and stairs of snow but customers are urged to use extreme caution if they need to travel."
New York City public schools will be open Monday, the mayor said. But all after school activities and field trips are canceled.
City officials will determine whether school will be closed on Tuesday "at an appropriate time," the mayor said, adding that schools will "likely" be closed.
With the potential for 3 feet of snow, blizzard conditions, winds of at least 35 miles per hour and low visibility, de Blasio urged New Yorkers not to underestimate this storm.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on New Yorkers on Sunday to prepare for the storm, including the possibility of road closures and public transit routes as well as power outages.
"With a major winter storm approaching the state, I urge New Yorkers to take all necessary precautions and make preparations for the possibility that commutes will be disrupted on Monday and Tuesday," Cuomo said in a statement. "I have directed all State agencies to prepare for the snow storm and have equipment and resources in areas forecasted to be hit the hardest. We will continue to monitor the storm's path as it approaches New York, and I urge people to pay attention to changing weather advisories as they prepare for the snow."
Road conditions will be treacherous, "no other word for it than treacherous," de Blasio said.
The mayor warned that even walking around the city during the storm could be dangerous and that New Yorkers should stay out of the city's parks for their own safety, citing the potential for falling branches under heavy snow.
City officials said residents with non-emergency questions or problems with heat or hot water should call 311.
Anyone with an emergency should call 911 for help.
De Blasio also asked residents to check in on their neighbors, especially the elderly and disabled before the storm starts to make sure they have what they need and will be safe through the brunt of the storm.
The Port Authority, which operates JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports as well as many area bridges, said it was getting equipment and snow melt ready and calling in operations personnel to work 12-hour shifts to ensure its facilities are safe.
Airlines typically cancel flights in advance of storms of this magnitude.
United Airlines has already canceled all of its flights for Tuesday at all three airports.
The Port Authority said it will provide cots and other essential items to travelers stranded at airports but urged travelers to check their flight statuses before they leave.
A weekend storm that had brought snow and slush to the Northeast -- the first real snow of the season for many areas -- was just a warm up.
"Looks like our luck is about to run out,'' John Paulsen said as he gassed up his SUV in New Jersey. "I can't complain too much since we've had a pretty mild winter, but I don't know if I'm ready for a foot or so of snow all at once."
Gov. Chris Christie said the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management is monitoring the storm, that travel will be very dangerous and urged residents to be prepared for possible power outages.
NJ TRANSIT announced full systemwide cross-honoring in advance of the storm.
On Long Island, Nassau County Ed Mangano met with officials to discuss plans for the storm, which includes having crews working to treat roads ahead of Monday morning's commute.
"Obviously, we're planning today, we're communicating, and we're getting ready for what looks like a very serious blizzard," Nassau County Exeuctive Ed Mangano told WCBS 880.
Mangano suggested that residents tune into weather forecasts Monday morning and listen for instructions throughout the day "so that you may judge how to get home safely and timely."
In Suffolk County, preparations are underway in an effort to avoid a repeat of two years ago when another storm shut down the Long Island Expressway between exits 57 and 73, leaving hundreds of people stranded in their cars, CBS2's Matt Kozar reported.
The governor deployed snow removal equipment from across the state to Long Island in one of the largest mobilizations in state history.
Officials in the Town of Islip said crews are at the ready.
"all our fuel capacity is full to capacity. Friday we had all deliveries of diesel and gas," said Islip Town DPW Commissioner Tom Owens. "All of our trucks are up and running. We have 150 pieces of town equipment."
The American Red Cross is urging people to stock up on the essentials: water, flashlights, batteries and a radio in case the power goes out.
"Right now, we're in a standby mode and our volunteers are ready to go," said Craig Cooper, with the American Red Cross. "This is the type of storm where we basically tell people to stay home."
Long Island homeowner David Scheinman is taking that advice and stocked up on fuel for his generator.
"After Sandy we had no power for 12 days so I got a generator right after that. I'm not going through that again," he said.
Suffolk County officials said residents with non-emergency problems such as heating issues or concern for an elderly or disabled person should call 631-852-4900.
PSEG Long Island said it has requested the assistance of 170 linemen from across the country, who are now heading to Long Island, Kozar reported.
To report an outage or downed power lines to PSEG Long Island, call 1-800-490-0075
In Stamford, Conn., Mayor David Martin said Sunday afternoon all snow-removal trucks there were already loaded and ready to roll.
"When the storm hits and the guys can start right away, we don't have to mess around with loading," he told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. "And before the storm hits, we go out with brine trucks and actually spray down a little bit of brine right at the hills and the curves. So I think we're in good shape."
Blizzard Watch Issued As Major Snowstorm Takes Aim At Tri-State Area
Martin urged people not to travel around the city Monday night and into Tuesday.
Snow plow driver Al Laplant expected to be out clearing roads of Simsbury, Connecticut this week, just as he has for more than two decades.
"We'll be out there until the storm's over and then at least three hours after cleaning up," he said as he attended a home show in Hartford. "We'll be out there through the whole storm."
But even for a plow driver, the snow is no cake walk.
"It's kind of exhilarating," he said. "But at the same time, I've been doing it for 27 years, so I'm kind of tired of it myself."
The last major snowfall to hit the Tri-State area was on Feb. 12, 2006 when a record 26.9 inches fell.
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