More than 70 million people were under a winter storm warning or advisory from northern Georgia to Maine, covering Wednesday and Thursday.
Freezing rain was falling in North Carolina Wednesday morning and snow was collecting from Ohio into northern Virginia. But the largest snowfall is expected to hit parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast from late morning into the afternoon and evening:
• Washington, DC: Expect under 2 inches of snow Wednesday, along with rain, freezing rain and sleet.
• Philadelphia: 3-6 inches of snow are possible Wednesday afternoon, with a rain and snow mix coming at night.
• Boston: 8-12 inches could fall in the city — and up to 18 inches west of town — from Wednesday night into Thursday.
And the heaviest snow could come in parts of central Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey, where up to 2 feet could collect.
Snow isn’t the only danger in the East — a quarter-inch of ice could accumulate in parts of North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
Impacts in some areas could be extreme: with travel disruptions, widespread power outages and damage to homes from falling trees all possible across the Mid-Atlantic, southeastern New York state, and southern New England.
Strong winds — perhaps with gusts of 40-60 mph — could lead to near-blizzard conditions and knock down power lines in Northeastern coastal areas, Myers said. And heavy rainfall could cause flooding in parts of the Mid-Atlantic, the weather service said.
By Thursday morning, the storm will be tracking into the Atlantic, while some snowfall may linger in parts of New England.
‘Be ready for a disruptive storm’
“Models predict that the first significant winter storm in nearly a year will hit Pennsylvania tomorrow,” the governor said in a statement.
“The commonwealth’s emergency preparedness teams have spent a great deal of time and energy over the last several months supporting efforts to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic and help the commonwealth weather this public health emergency and ensure vaccines are delivered as planned.”
“This proclamation makes it easier for all of those involved in vaccine delivery and keeping people safe to do their jobs,” he added.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents to take precautions ahead of the storm, saying the city could see blizzard-like conditions Thursday morning with “really bad visibility, intense wind, intense snow.”
“You need to be ready for a disruptive storm,” he said during a news conference Tuesday. “I want people to right now be thinking about the precautions you’re going to take, the ways you’re going to change your routine. Take this seriously.”
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont warned against unnecessary travel, and announced the State Emergency Operations Center, already working virtually throughout the pandemic, will remain activated to monitor storm conditions.
“With heavy and steady snowfall expected starting on Wednesday evening, the Department of Transportation is activated and prepared to clear and treat our roadways,” Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said in a statement.
“Driving conditions will be treacherous at best and downright dangerous at worst. The best thing the public can do is sit this one out and let our crews do their jobs,” Giulietti added.
CNN’s Rob Frehse, Judson Jones, Dave Hennen and Monica Garrett contributed to this report.