As a strong weather system caused heavy rain and snow along the eastern United States on Tuesday, forecasters warned the bad weather might continue throughout the week – an outlook that could put a damper on the holiday travel plans of many Americans.

The storm that churned just off the East Coast could cause as much as four inches of snow in some areas. Other regions, prone to so-called "lake effect snow," could get even more than that.

Students in several North Carolina counties were sent home early Tuesday because of snow and sleet, and weather forecasters said mountain areas could get heavier snowfall.

The National Weather Service predicted snow in the mountains of eastern Tennessee Tuesday morning and more snow later in the week could leave up to a foot of snow in the area by Friday. That includes stretches of Interstate 94 and the Indiana Toll Road.

On Tuesday, light snow in Union County, Georgia closed highways and a transportation official there said the roads would remain closed through Wednesday.

In Atlanta, high winds knocked out power and caused delays at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Experts at The Weather Channel said low pressure will continue to race up the Eastern Seaboard Tuesday. Winds will also increase and storm and gale warnings are in effect along the Atlantic Coast. Forecasters in New Jersey expect temperatures to plunge with winds increasing to up to 45 miles-an-hour. Adding to the areas weather worries, on Wednesday, the forecast calls for snow, beginning in inland regions and moving towards coastal areas by nightfall.

Those conditions could slow highway traffic flow and cause major delays at airports during the busy Thanksgiving holiday.

Cold air pushing in behind the storm will produce rain or even snow from northern New England south through the Appalachians. Weather Channel experts also said significant accumulations of snow are possible from the higher elevations of West Virginia, through the Adirondacks of New York, to Vermont. High temperatures likely will range from the 30s in many interior locations to the 50s in locations close to the coast.

Snow is expected to sweep across the Great Lakes on Wednesday night and Thursday while very cold air moves in, causing far-below average temperatures and possibly heavy snow around the Great Lakes on Thursday night and Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.