Update: Six states buried in more than two feet of snow from historic blizzard of 2013
Winter storm and blizzard warnings went into effect early Friday and are expected to continue through Saturday afternoon.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said widespread heavy snowfall amounts of one to three feet are likely across the region.
This combined with forecast strong winds of 50 to more than 70 mph with the powerful storm system, NWS says will bring severe blizzard conditions along with up to five foot snow drifts to some areas including in Boston, New York City and Hartford.
"This one doesn't come along every day. This is going to be a dangerous winter storm," said Alan Dunham, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. "Wherever you need to get to, get there by Friday afternoon and don't plan on leaving."
Before the first snowflake had fallen, Boston, Providence, R.I., Hartford, Conn., and other towns and cities in New England and upstate New York towns canceled school Friday, and airlines scratched more than 3,700 flights through Saturday, with the disruptions from the blizzard certain to ripple across the U.S.
Snowfall with the developing storm system had already accumulated up to around a half-foot across portions of Upstate New York, Vermont and Maine as of late Friday morning.
Boston is expected to be one of the hardest hit cities with up to three feet of snow, while New York City was expecting around a foot.
According to the NWS, in records dating to 1892, there have been only six snowstorms of 20 inches or more in Boston, topped by the Feb. 17-18, 2003 snowstorm with 27.5 inches and the infamous "Blizzard of '78" with 27.1 inches.
It could prove to be among the top 10 snowstorms in history, and perhaps even break Boston's record of 27.6 inches, set in 2003, according to the NWS.
At the height of the storm, which is expected to occur Friday night into early Saturday, the NWS said snow could fall at a rate of two to four inches per hour and may be accompanied by thunder and lightning.
Downed power lines, widespread blackouts, and inaccessible roads are all possibilities with a storm of this magnitude.
"Travel may become nearly impossible with blowing and drifting snow," the NWS said for Friday night.
An Alberta clipper that spread a swath of moderate to heavy snow on the order of six to around a foot of snow from portions of eastern Wisconsin across central Michigan Thursday afternoon into Thursday night is expected to combine with an strengthening surface low pressure area organizing off the U.S. East Coast Friday morning.
This will induce the powerful winter storm and blizzard over the Northeast by late Friday afternoon and lasting through Saturday.