A monster winter storm has blanketed much of the U.S. east coast with a heavy layer of snow, shuttering residents in their homes, stranding motorists, and creating what forecasters say could be “life-threatening blizzard conditions.”
More than 30 centimeters of snow have already fallen on many parts of the region, including Washington DC. Forecasters say it will get much worse, with snowfall totals possibly doubling and combining with heavy winds that will create near whiteout conditions.
“The combination of heavy snow, strong winds, and potential life threatening conditions are expected through Saturday night,” said the National Weather Service in a blizzard warning.
The Howard Theatre in Washington, Jan. 23, 2016. (P. Datcher/VOA)
At least nine people have already died nationwide as a result of the slow-moving storm, which has brought snowy and often treacherous conditions all the way from Georgia to New England.
States of emergency have been declared in at least 10 states.
In Kentucky, authorities have opened emergency shelters along a major interstate highway, where motorists have been stranded for at least 10 hours.
Washington DC, which was in the bullseye of the storm, had already received around 25 centimeters of snow, with accumulation expected to continue into Sunday.
WATCH: Snow quickly piles up in Washington
By the time it passes through, the snowstorm could be one of the city’s top 10 worst in recorded history, according to forecasters.
Ahead of the storm, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency and closed local schools Friday.
"This has life-and-death implications, and all the residents of the District of Columbia should treat it that way," said Bowser.
Federal government offices in the city shut down. Authorities even took the rare step of closing the entire DC Metro public transit system.
Nationwide, at least 6,300 flights were canceled Friday and thousands more were delayed. Widespread power outages were also expected.
In New York City, forecasters worsened their prediction for snowfall as the storm approached. They now believe the city could also get as much as 45 centimeters of snow.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said authorities were dealing with the storm Saturday and cautioned people to remain home unless it is an emergency.
Snow plows and traffic make their way north along Interstate 95 as snow begins to fall in Ashland, Virginia, Jan. 22, 2016. Portions of Virginia are under a blizzard warning.
A pedestrian walks his dog in the median of Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, Jan. 22, 2016.
Donna Przychodzki, of Secaucus, N.J., leaves Meadowlands Hardware with two snow shovels purchased in preparation for the weekend's storm, Jan. 22, 2016, in Rutherford, New Jersey.
NASA and NOAA satellites are tracking the large winter storm that is expected to bring heavy snowfall to the U.S. mid-Atlantic region on Jan. 22-23. NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite snapped this image of the approaching blizzard around 2:35 a.m. EST, Jan. 22, 2016.
Snow begins to stick on the cap and jacket of a U.S. Capitol Police, in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D. C., Jan. 22, 2016.
Cancelled flights are displayed on a status board at New York's Laguardia Airport ahead of a powerful approaching winter storm, Jan. 22, 2016.
A man walks through heavy snow in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, Jan. 22, 2016. Much of downtown was deserted as state and city government offices were closed for the day.
Duke Energy employees work to restore power in a neighborhood in Matthews, North Carolina, Jan. 22, 2016.
Pennsylvania Avenue looking toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington is virtually empty early in the morning, Jan. 22, 2016 as the Nation's capital hunkered down in preparation for a major snow storm expected to begin later in the day.
A convenience store in Raleigh, North Carolina, advertises the "essentials" as a winter storm threatens to dump the first big snow of the season, Jan. 21, 2016.
Vincent Ayd, left, owner of Ayd Hardware in Towson, Maryland, and truck driver Mike Jock, of Newark, Deleware, unload snow shovels and ice-melt in Towson, Jan. 21, 2016.
Employee Michael Torney (R) watches a customer carry out a bag of ice melt at Strosniders Hardware store in Silver Spring, Maryland, Jan. 21, 2016.