Winter Storm Stella puts 18M under blizzard warning: Here's what you need to know

Winter Storm Stella blasted up the East Coast Tuesday, providing much of the region with its biggest snowfall of the winter. Here is what you need to know:

PDX flights canceled Tuesday

As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, the Portland International Airport listed that 13 of its 54 scheduled flights for the day had been canceled. Check the latest PDX delays and cancellations

The latest forecast

The late-season snowstorm continued to dump snow, sleet and freezing rain from the Carolinas to New England Tuesday, including many of the big cities in the Northeast U.S., the National Weather Service said. Blizzard warnings and winter storm warnings remain in effect for heavy snowfall accumulations from the northern Mid Atlantic through the Northeast U.S., with some areas from eastern Pennsylvania to southern New England likely getting in excess of a foot. Coastal flooding is also possible from the system.

Photos: Stella blasts the East Coast

How many people are affected?

As of late Tuesday morning, 18 million Americans were under a blizzard warning, which stretched from eastern Pennsylvania to southern Maine. Millions more were under a winter storm warning or advisory. The entirety of all six New England states, as well as all of New York, New Jersey and Delaware were under some form of weather alert.

Things are closed

The storm has closed schools in many cities and towns and has prompted dire warnings to stay off the roads. Entertain your kids and keep your sanity in tact.

Why Stella?

Because The Weather Channel said so. No other private firms, nor the weather service, use this name. The Weather Channel is calling the system Stella as part of its winter storm naming system.

Snow vs. ice

Many areas are getting less snow than predicted, but in its place is a messy mix of sleet and freezing rain, which has led to downed trees and power lines and caused power outages in some areas.

Ice coated Washington, D.C.'s beloved cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, the Capital Weather Gang tweeted. The blossoms had emerged earlier than usual due to a recent stretch of weirdly warm weather.

CWG's Kevin Ambrose is at the Tidal Basin and says ice covers the cherry blossoms. Storm updates: https://t.co/wuM0TkJR4y pic.twitter.com/zwjK8tbQfP

— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) March 14, 2017

Blame the 'sandwich'

Sleet and freezing rain forms due to a "warm-air sandwich" in the atmosphere above our heads. Precipitation starts as snow in the cold layer at the top, then melts to rain as it falls through the warm layer, then refreezes into sleet or freezing rain as it falls through the cold layer near the surface.

In the dark

Stella has knocked out power to over 100,000 customers from Virginia to Pennsylvania, according to the Associated Press.

The not-so-friendly skies

As of Tuesday morning, airlines canceled 7,746 flights this week, disrupting travel plans for 400,000 passengers, according to FlightAware.com, an online tracking service.

More than 80% of the schedules in New York and Boston, and half the flights to and from Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia were canceled Tuesday, according to FlightAware. Plans for Wednesday are still fluid, with more than 600 cancelations already.

What happens next?

Sorry, spring lovers. After the storm exits, a second blast of arctic air will keep the eastern half of the nation in its clutches for the rest of the week. “Winter will hold a tight grip on the Northeast in wake of the significant snowstorm early this week,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido said. Blowing snow could also complicate road crews' work.

The nor'easter comes a week after the region saw temperatures climb into the 60s, and less than a week before the official start of spring.

Contributing: Bart Jansen, USA TODAY; Associated Press

© 2017 KGW-TV


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