Roughly 42 million Americans across the eastern US are under some kind of winter weather alert.
About 4 to 8 inches of snow are forecast from the southern Appalachians to New England Saturday into early Sunday. However, areas of high elevation in the interior Northeast could see up to a foot of snow.
Especially intense snowfall — 1-2 inches per hour — are possible into early afternoon in parts of eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, eastern New York state, and western New England.
“New Yorkers should do their best to stay off the roads during this time,” New York Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said Friday ahead of the storm.
Lines of thunderstorms hit elsewhere in the East Saturday, including Florida and the Carolinas. And the whole system has been accompanied and followed by strong, potentially damaging winds.
Wind advisories were in effect early Saturday afternoon for more than 90 million people from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast, where gusts of up to 50 mph are possible through Saturday evening.
The weather service also confirmed an EF-1 tornado with maximum winds of 100 mph touched down in Ocala.
Metropolitan areas along the coast, including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston are expected to collect rain and then some snow and sleet Saturday, though they will avoid the worst accumulations. Philadelphia may receive 2 to 4 inches of snow and sleet, with the other cities accumulating less, forecasters said.
Deep freeze coming to the South
A lobe of frigid air will sag deeply into the US following Saturday’s snow and rain, bringing freezing temperatures as far south as Florida.
But Saturday’s storm system will bring plummeting temperatures and frigid air from Canada all the way down to the Gulf Coast. Locations from Louisiana to South Carolina and southward into Florida are expecting a deep freeze Saturday night into Sunday morning. Many of these locations will experience a hard freeze, with several hours below 28 degrees.
Low temperatures in the low to mid-20s and below freezing for a significant duration in much of the Deep South will threaten vulnerable vegetation already blooming there.
“Freeze conditions will kill crops, other sensitive vegetation and possibly damage unprotected outdoor plumbing,” the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, said.
Temperatures will be in the teens for the Tennessee Valley into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, but freeze warnings are not issued for these locations because the growing season has not begun.
CNN’s Haley Brink, Melissa Alonso, Aya Elamroussi and Derek Van Dam contributed to this report.