The U.S. East Coast was under a Winter Storm Warning early on Saturday for heavy snowfall centered around the nation's capital, the National Weather Service said on its website.
Snow accumulation through Saturday night for Washington, D.C, was forecast at between 15 and 25 inches, with cold and windy conditions and blowing snow.
The storm was expected to pass through the mid-Atlantic region by Sunday morning and blanket areas to the north, including Philadelphia and New York City, later in the weekend.
Snow was expected to start falling in New York by mid-afternoon on Saturday, with accumulation of 6 to 12 inches by early Sunday morning.
Travel conditions were expected to be hazardous and local authorities were urging drivers to stay off the roads.
Airports in the greater Washington area including Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport were open as of 1:30 a.m. EST but the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority advised air travelers to check with airlines to confirm the status of their flights.
The snowstorm was expected to dump more snow on the region than any storm since at least February 2003 and to take a big bite out of retail sales on the last weekend before Christmas, traditionally one of the busiest of the year, according to Reuters' report.