The East Coast is bracing itself for a major nor'easter this weekend, with heavy snow, high winds, and cold temps expected to impact 75 million people from South Carolina to Maine. The Weather Channel reports that the winter storm dubbed Kenan—set to form off the Carolinas on Friday, then gain strength as it travels north up the coast, per CNN—has already drawn blizzard warnings from the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center for eastern Long Island up through coastal New England.
The storm will throw its biggest punch on Saturday, with the WPC noting the heaviest snow is expected to drop along a section that stretches from Maryland's eastern shores up through the bulk of Maine, where 6 to 12 inches are likely. Parts of coastal New England might see 2 feet or more, with conditions making travel "nearly impossible." Coastal flooding and beach erosion are also expected to be in the mix, while high winds are expected to slam places like Portland, Boston, and Atlantic City, NJ.
"Bitter cold" is set to follow along the storm's path, leading to highs that are 15 degrees to 25 degrees lower than average in most places. CNN explains the storm system is expected to gain strength through a process called "bombogenesis," turning it into a "bomb cyclone." For a storm to receive that designation, it needs to see a certain drop—usually 24 millibars—in its atmospheric pressure over a 24-hour period. The lower the central pressure becomes, the more powerful the storm.
Still, weather forecasts can be fickle, with CNN using predictions for New York City as an example. The news outlet's own meteorologists think the Big Apple will see between 8 and 12 inches of snow, with 50mph wind gusts, while Friday morning the NWS offered a 10% chance that the city could see up to 17 inches of snow—but also a 10% change that no snow will fall at all. It all comes down to how the storm shifts as it moves. "It's like a bowling ball going right down the middle or slightly off-center," CNN meteorologist Chad Myers says. "You can get a 7-10 split or a strike with only an inch difference." (Read more snowstorm stories.)