With the first major snowstorm of the season approaching the East Coast, five states have declared a state of emergency. Blizzard warnings were put in place for Washington DC, Baltimore and New York City.

The ‘Nor’Easter’ snowfall is expected to move from the mid-South up towards the eastern seaboard, and could affect up to 50 million people.

Between 18-24 inches are expected in Washington and Baltimore, 12-18 inches in Philadelphia and 5-10 inches in New York. Visibility could be severely low on the roads.

Major cities are already preparing themselves by readying fleets of snowploughs and issuing stern weather warnings.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York told people to stay off the roads from Friday onwards. “Anyone who has the illusion you’re going to be taking big trips over the weekend, get that out of your mind,” he said at a news conference.

In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser gave a news conference with dumper trucks being filled with salt in the background. She said government offices would close by noon on Friday and public schools would be closed for the whole day.

Commuters go to work amidst snowfall in Washington DC
Commuters go to work amidst snowfall in Washington DC

Airlines have already begin cancelling flights for Friday and Saturday.

According to FlightAware.com American Airlines cancelled all flights to North Carolina/Charlotte Douglas with Delta scrapping some 120 flights to the Southeast. Many more flights to eastern US cities are expected to be similarly impacted.

Many more flights to eastern US cities are expected to be similarly impacted.

With the National Guard deployed already in North Carolina, supermarkets shelves have been emptying of essentials. Virginia reported supplies of bread, milk and other essentials disappearing as residents heeded official warnings to prepare.

A number of US consumer groups have warned suppliers against price gouging for essentials supplies like batteries, torches, generators and hotel rooms.

A number of US consumer groups have warned suppliers against price gouging for essentials supplies like batteries, torches, generators and hotel rooms.

New York City canceled its Winter Jam festival in Central Park, after spending days bringing in artificial snow for the sports event.

In North Carolina, two people died late on Wednesday in traffic incidents on slippery roads. National Weather Service chief Louis Uccellini said ice could play a major part in anticipated problems this weekend. “You put all the ingredients together, you can get a storm like this and it’s happening in real time,” he said.

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