A fast-moving storm system may bring the heaviest snowfall of the season to a highly populated section of the Northeast on Thursday, along with strong winds and coastal flooding.
The National Weather Service issued Winter Storm warnings for a wide swath of the Northeast, stretching from western Pennsylvania to coastal Maine.
Forecasters predict that Boston and New York City would get 8 to 12 inches of snow, while Philadelphia may end up with 6 to 8 inches. The storm is expected to impact eastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey with rain early Thursday morning before changing over to snow.
Near whiteout conditions are possible, with snow expected to fall at 2 to 4 inches per hour at the storm's height, according to the weather service.
High winds are also expected along the coast, with gusts up to 50 mph, prompting Blizzard Warnings in eastern Long Island and along Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Temperatures were also forecast to drop into the 20s across much of the region.
"This is going to be a big punch," said Benjamin Sipprell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts, told the Associated Press. "It's originating in the Ohio River Valley and starts cranking as it comes across Appalachia."
In New York City, the Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Department of Sanitation, announced that Alternate Side Parking regulations will be suspended citywide for the day due to the weather, according to FOX 5 New York.
Schools across New York City will be closed Thursday, as the storm moves into the region in the early morning hours, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a tweet.
Due to expected significant snowfall all @NYCSchools will be CLOSED tomorrow, Feb 9.— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) February 8, 2017
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that all state offices will be closed Thursday due to the storm.
The governor ordered the closing of state officers "due to the impending severe winter storm" for all non-essential employees.
Officials in the Boston area have advised motorists to avoid the roads Thursday, FOX 25 Boston reported.
“The weather forecast is calling for snow to begin before the morning commute on Thursday, become heavy quickly, and continue throughout the day, decreasing visibility and braking time,” Massachusetts Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin said in a statement. “Safety is our greatest priority, and as this snow storm is expected to create potentially hazardous conditions for the morning and evening commutes, we encourage all travelers to make safe and smart decisions and avoid heading out onto the roadways if they are able to.”
MassDOT said it is best to work from home Thursday is possible, but if that isn't an option, it is encouraging travelers to make informed decisions before hitting the roads.
The city of Philadelphia declared a snow emergency ahead of the storm. Archdiocesan high schools and parochial elementary schools in the City of Philadelphia will be closed Thursday, FOX 29 reported.
Airlines were bracing for a troublesome day: The flight-tracking site FlightAware.com said more than 2,000 Thursday flights had been canceled as of Wednesday afternoon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.