NEW YORK CITY — Snow blanketed New York City Friday evening, as the first blizzard of the season blew into town.
Forecasters warned that blizzard conditions, including high winds and even the possibility of "thundersnow," would make travel difficult late Friday night into Saturday morning.
Steady winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour occasionally gusted up to nearly 40 miles per hour as the temperature dropped just below freezing Friday evening. As of 7 p.m., 2.5 inches of snow had fallen in Central Park and more than 4 inches had fallen in Eastchester in The Bronx, meteorologists said.
"The next few hours through about 2, 3 a.m. is going to be the worst of it," a National Weather Service meteorologist said Friday evening. "But you're still going to have blowing and drifting snow tomorrow morning."
While a heavy band of snow — pounding down at rates of 4 inches an hour or more — hovered over Long Island and Connecticut, it appeared to be skirting the city, National Weather Service meteorologists said Friday night.
Still, New York City could see 10 inches of snow or more by the time the storm, dubbed "Nemo" by the Weather Channel, is done Saturday afternoon, forecasters said.
Forecasters expected the highest snowfall totals in The Bronx, which could see up to a foot of accumulation, while Staten Island and Brooklyn were slated for lower amounts of 7 to 8 inches, with Manhattan and Queens falling somewhere in the middle, the National Weather Service meteorologist said.
The storm got off to a slow start Friday morning, as snow mixed with rain, and temperatures hovered near 40 degrees.
By mid-afternoon, temperatures had dropped to just above freezing, and snow moved in from the north, blanketing The Bronx, upper Manhattan and LaGuardia Airport as a mix of sleet and rain fell in much of Brooklyn and Staten Island, the National Weather Service said.
The weather service has issued a blizzard warning for the New York City area that remains in effect through 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“This combination of snow and high winds and the reduced visibility are hazards for travel, and it’s why we remain under a blizzard warning through 1 p.m. on Saturday," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a weather update Friday afternoon.
The city should prepare for snow-covered roads, with blowing and drifting snow limiting visibility, AccuWeather meteorologist Dan DePodwin said earlier in the day.
The rapidly strengthening storm may also produce a rare phenomenon called "thundersnow," where flurries are accompanied by the type of lighting typically seen during summertime.
“It's something that’s very unusual," DePodwin said.
The storm, predicted to span from New York City to Maine, is the product of two weather systems merging together. One is moving east from the Great Lakes Region and the other is heading up from off the coast of the Carolinas.
Despite the impact on the city, the worst of the storm is actually expected to hit to the northeast, with Boston and its surrounding areas in for a potentially "historic" blow, meteorologists said.
The storm will likely weaken but still continue through Saturday morning before dying off in the afternoon, according to the NWS.
“Tomorrow will be a very wintry, just cold, windy day," DePodwin said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Friday that it plans to run subways and buses "as close to normal as possible," but may ground its bus fleet depending on the severity of the storm.
Metro-North Railroad shut down at 10 p.m. Friday and all flights were canceled at area airports.
The storm was also expected to cause a minor tidal surge between 2 and 4 feet above normal levels in low-lying areas like the Rockaways and Jamaica Bay starting at high tide about 6:30 p.m., a NWS spokesman said.
DePodwin noted the storm's impact is unlikely to match 2010's post-Christmas blizzard, when the city was socked with nearly 2 feet of snow, crippling transit and leaving many stranded on unplowed roads.
"That was obviously a much more significant storm for the city," he said.
For more information about the forecast in your neighborhood, check out DNAinfo's weather page.