Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has issued a state of emergency ahead of an upcoming winter storm that threatens to bring heavy snowfall to the Washington area and the Northeast.
Thursday's declaration authorizes state agencies to assist local governments in response to the storm, which is expected to dump up to 2 feet of snow in parts of the state and bring strong winds.
McAuliffe says in a statement that residents should "take the threat of this storm seriously." He says that includes travel disruptions and possible power outages.
He says transportation crews are treating roads before the storm hits.
Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne is urging residents to stay off roads until the storm passes.
Maryland Department of Transportation spokesman Charlie Gischlar says crews got stuck in lengthy backups Wednesday night, slowing their progress. He says major delays continued through the night on the Capital Beltway in Prince George's County, but crews are making progress Thursday morning.
Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer McCord says in northern Virginia minor accidents built to gridlock and ramp closures continued through the night. She described, "a long night for a lot of people trying to get home."
Heavy snowfall is predicted by the weekend from the Appalachians to Philadelphia and maybe farther north.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch for New York's Long Island starting Saturday morning as the Washington area and the Northeast brace for heavy snowfall.
The Weather Service said Thursday morning that nor'easter-like conditions are expected to hit Long Island, New York City and parts of New Jersey, starting Saturday morning.
The watch means there's potential for 8 to 12 inches of snow, northeast winds 25 to 35 mph and temperatures in the lower 30s.
Mitchell Gaines of the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said people should be prepared for strong winds, heavy, wet snow and power outages.
The National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center warns of heavy, "perhaps crippling" snow across the northern mid-Atlantic region, including Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia, probably beginning Friday.