A fast-moving winter storm that pummeled parts of Kentucky and Virginia is expected to cause widespread disruption across the Northeast on Friday and Saturday, dumping between 4 and 12 inches of snow on the region's major cities.
More than 60 million people are under winter weather alerts, and local officials have taken pre-emptive measures to prepare the densely-populated region, including shutting government offices and ordering school closures.
The winter weather, coupled with disruptions arising from COVID-19, has caused huge headaches for air travelers. More than 2,200 flights have already been canceled on Friday, according to flightaware.com.
In Connecticut, all executive branch state office buildings will be closed on Friday and non-essential employees are being asked to work remotely.
"This appears to be a significant winter storm that is about to impact our state, with snowfall anticipated to reach rates of more than one inch per hour causing whiteout conditions and happening right at the height of the morning rush hour," Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement.
He warned people not to venture onto roads if possible.
New York City has activated its winter weather plan with 330,000 tons of salt, over 700 salt spreaders and over 1,600 plow vehicles on standby, while neighboring New Jersey declared a state of emergency.
The combination of snow and wind could result in blackouts due to downed power lines, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy warned. He encouraged people to work remotely if possible, as the storm would likely make travel hazardous.
More than 450 schools, including Boston Public Schools, charter schools and colleges are closed Friday. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker also directed non-emergency employees to stay home on Friday.
Snowfall began early Friday morning and is expected to last into the afternoon.
"Most of the snow is going to fall between now and 10 a.m. It is a fairly quick-moving storm, but it is going to have some intense snowfall rates. Getting out on the roads is going to be challenging," WCVB Meteorologist Cindy Fitzgibbon said.
The snow is causing cause poor visibility and slippery road conditions. Snowfall rates could reach up to 1 inch per hour in some areas.
MassDOT has more than 2,500 pieces of equipment deployed in ice and snow operations, officials said. A speed restriction of 40 mph is in place on the Massachusetts Turnpike from the New York border to the route Interstate 495 interchange.
In Virginia, the National Guard is being mobilized to assist with emergency management as the state faces its second winter storm this week, according to Virginia's Army and Air National Guard Major General Tim Williams.
And Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency.
The upcoming storm will be smaller but hit similar areas to the storm in Virginia earlier in the week, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist in Charge, Jeff Orrock.
"Overall we'll see three to four inches with some isolated amounts, 4-6 inches in the higher elevations, and at the very peaks we could see 6-8 inches," Orrock said, adding a potential of more snow with "upwards of 5-6 inches over the I-95 corridor."
Federal government offices and public schools in Washington D.C. will be closed Friday.
Select COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites will be open, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said, but winter weather is impacting testing and vaccination sites in Maryland and Virginia.
The Maryland Department of Health will delay operating times at various locations Friday, and five of Virginia's Community Vaccination Centers will be closed due to inclement weather, the state's health department said.
Kentucky declares state of emergency
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency following heavy snowfall across the state Thursday. And the state's National Guard has been activated at all interstate closures.
"The powerful severe weather is affecting travel on major interstates, and state and local roadways as well as causing power outages and damage to public infrastructure and private properties," Beshear said in a statement.
He urged people to stay off the roads if possible and added that the Red Cross is monitoring the need for warming centers and search and rescue teams have already been activated for safety checks on stranded motorists.
The weather caused a multi-car pileup on the Western Kentucky Parkway in Elizabethtown on Thursday.
State Police Public Information Officer Scotty Sharp said the only injuries were minor and non-life-threatening.
Hearst TV stations contributed to this report