Blizzard With ‘Life and Death Implications’ Menaces Washington, Mid-Atlantic; 8 Dead

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Up to 85 million people are in the path of a worsening winter storm that’s hit much of the East Coast of the United States.

Snow is coming down, but when the storm goes into the Atlantic on Saturday morning, it will supercharge, CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers said.

“The fuse was just lit,” Myers said. Once it gets to the jet stream, “that’s when the firecracker goes off.”

Here are the latest developments as of 11:50 a.m. PT:

— Two people died Friday night in traffic accidents linked to inclement weather in North Carolina, said spokeswoman Olivia James of the State Emergency Response Team.

— Mass transit services in Washington and Baltimore have been suspended for the weekend.

— Some Amtrak service to and from the East Coast has either been canceled or truncated.

— Philadelphia has issued a code blue for overnight Friday into Saturday. This means anyone who spots homeless people out in the cold should call the police, who will take them to a shelter.

— 10 states have all declared states of emergency due to the storm as of Friday. They are: Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia. Washington has declared a “snow emergency.”

By the numbers:

Eight people dead nationwide, six fatalities were North Carolina, one in Virginia and one in Kentucky 132,739 customers without power across the Southeast as of Friday, with 125,000 in the Carolinas, according to Duke Energy. 8,835 flights canceled from Friday through Sunday. 989 traffic crashes and 793 disabled vehicles responded to by Virginia State Police as of late Friday night 18-40 inches. That’s how much snow some areas areas could receive, according to meteorologists. 55 mph wind gusts possible in Norfolk, Virginia.

It’s just coming down

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser spared no words in a warning to residents about the oncoming storm.

“It has life and death implications, and (people) should treat it that way,” she said. “People should hunker down, shelter in place and stay off the roads.”

A snow plow driver in Fairfax, Virginia, told CNN that the storm is “starting to get worse. It’s pretty thick. This is an all new experience for us.”

“Past winters was much easier, much easier,” he said.

Forecast: What’s the outlook?

Snow. Lots and lots of snow.

From midnight until noon Saturday, the forecast shows snowfall rates could potentially reach 10 inches every six hours, according to Chris Geldart of the District of Columbia’s emergency management agency.

The snow arrived in Washington in the afternoon and quickly intensified, with 2½ feet possible by the time the last flakes fall Saturday night, the mayor said.

The storm could be the largest in Washington’s history, and will probably rank in the top 5 in terms of snowfall accumulation.

Baltimore may get 19-29 inches between Friday and Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service. The agency tweeted that worst of the storm will run from 1 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Hurricane force wind gusts will be possible Saturday along the Eastern Seaboard, with moderate flooding likely.

Also a concern: the wind, which could reach up to 50 mph or higher, sleet and black ice, which is affecting roads in North Carolina, according to the state’s department of transportation.

Get. Off. The. Roads.

We all know those folks who fly down the road, no matter the conditions. Officials don’t want them — or anyone else — on the roads this weekend.

“People need to understand the gravity of what is coming our way,” said Geldart of the District of Columbia’s emergency management agency. “This is a dangerous storm. It is time to be indoors.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie asked motorists not to interfere with snowplows and salt trucks. He authorized transit officials to suspend service at 2 a.m. Saturday.

Outages, cancellations and postponements

As the storm’s impact widens as it moves north, power outages are expected to soar.

Most airports in the Mid-Atlantic virtually were shut down. United Airlines, for instance, said operations at Dulles and D.C. metro airports were suspended, with plans to resume limited flights on Sunday night.

The ripple effect extended to Los Angeles International Airport, with 86 canceled arriving and departing flights.

To top it off, the winter storm has forced postponement of hundreds of events — including NBA games in Philadelphia and Washington, plus an NHL contest in the nation’s capital, as well as a rally for the Carolina Panthers ahead of their NFC professional football championship in Charlotte.

Though the game between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes went on as planned, it doesn’t look like many people showed up from pictures inside the arena.

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