HARTFORD, Conn. -- Residents and emergency management officials in New England and parts of New York prepared on Wednesday for a winter storm predicted to help usher in 2014 with snow and frigid temperatures across much of the region.
Snow was expected to begin falling overnight, promising a messy commute for the first business day of the new year, but the full storm wasn't expected to hit until later Thursday. As much as a foot of snow or more was forecast for some areas overnight Thursday into Friday, and temperatures were expected to plummet, with some areas seeing highs just above zero, the National Weather Service said.
"There will be travel problems," said Hugh Johnson, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albany, N.Y. "It will be very cold. You don't want to be out in the stuff long unless you have the proper clothing."
Sections of interior southern New England and New York could get up to a foot of snow, with forecasts generally calling for 6 to 12 inches. New York City, likely to see 3 to 7 inches, issued a snow alert. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the city's commuters to leave their cars at home in case major highways are closed for Thursday's evening rush hour.
"We are looking at a serious storm situation," Cuomo said. "We are preparing accordingly."
Near blizzard conditions were forecast for areas along the coast. The mayor of Bridgeport declared a state of emergency for Thursday, imposing special parking regulations so crews can plow.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee's office, the state police, the Department of Transportation and other state agencies held a conference call on New Year's Eve to prepare for the storm.
Officials said crews would be prepared to plow, sand and salt roads or respond to any problems that may arise.
While the bulk of the snow was expected to hit southern New England and southern sections of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the prospect of any additional snow was welcome news for many areas farther north.
The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in northern New Hampshire said the number of skiers during the first five days of Christmas vacation week increased 26 percent compared to last year.
"We seem to be in a sweet spot of snow," foundation executive director Thom Perkins said. "We've had a phenomenal season so far."
Over in Maine, where some communities are still recovering from a recent ice storm that cut power to more than 100,000 customers, people seemed prepared for more winter weather.
Kelly St. Denis, of Auburn, went skiing Wednesday at the Sunday River ski area with family and friends. She said it's been cold, but the skiing has been good.
"Hey, it's winter in Maine," she said. "We go with it."
Associated Press writers Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vt., Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., and David Sharp in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.