A massive winter storm is moving up the East Coast, threatening to bring up to 2 feet of snow to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore and pound the rest of the region with plenty of winter weather and headaches.
"I don't know if it's going to go down in the record books but it will be very significant," said Bruce Terry, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in Camp Spring, Md. "Travel tonight and tomorrow will be absolutely treacherous."
In the hardest-hit areas around Washington and Baltimore, Terry said the roads simply "will be impassable."
In Baltimore, weather forecasters are watching to see if the record snowfall of 28.2 inches set over Feb. 16-18, 2003 will be shattered.
In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency and warned residents to prepare emergency kits, stay off roads and prepare for power outages.
"It's certainly not unusual, we're still in the beginning of February. We're still kind of in the heart of winter," Terry said. "The pattern we are in this year with an El Nino is a lot of storms coming across the southern region."
Airlines have canceled flights in anticipation of the storm and Amtrak canceled train service south of Washington. Luckily, this is not a giant travel weekend and the worst of the storm is expected to hit over the weekend when most people don't have to commute to work or school.
The hardest hit regions will be eastern West Virginia, northern and central Virginia, most of Maryland, Delaware and the southern parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Terry said. The storm, which is working its way from the south to the north, will weaken as it reaches New York City, which he said should get 3 to 5 inches of snow. Philadelphia will get 8 to 12 inches of snow, he added, and "by the time the storm gets to Boston it won't really be anything."
Parts of Indiana will see 6 to 8 inches of snow and Ohio will see 6 to 10 inches. Blowing Rock, N.C. already had 8 inches this morning. Blizzard warnings have been issues for parts of New Jersey and Delaware.
"It will snow through much of the daylight hours Saturday," Terry said, with the worst ending by nightfall.
Delta canceled 230 flights on the east coast and doesn't plan any flights in or out of the Washington area on Saturday, resuming service again Sunday morning. Southwest canceled all flights out of Dulles, Baltimore-Washington International and Philadelphia airports through Sunday morning.
US Airways canceled 592 flights system-wide out of 3,100 scheduled flights today. For Saturday, the airline plans to cancel another 529. JetBlue has canceled all flights, about 32 roundtrips, in and out of BWI, Dulles and Richmond, Va.
United canceled 225 flights on the east coast Saturday and American cancelled 145 flights Friday with plans not to operate any flights to the three Washington-area airports Saturday. American also plans to start flying again Sunday. Continental has cancelled flights in and out of the three Washington airports and Philadelphia from 2 p.m. Friday through Saturday. That's about 20 mainline flights.