Snowstorm marches north after blanketing Southeast

ATLANTA — The South got an early taste of winter before other regions this year, but the Northeast won’t have to wait for too long.

The same weather system that dumped snow in the Southeast on Friday is marching farther up the East Coast, where major cities are forecast to get several inches over the weekend.

“This is the first significant winter storm for the East Coast,” CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam said Saturday morning. “Once this storm moves off the coast, it will have blanketed a swath of snow stretching roughly 2,000 miles from the deep South to the New England coast.

Related: Check your full FOX61 forecast on the winter storm here.

More than 70 million people across the upper South and Northeast are under a winter storm warning, watch or advisory, but those numbers will change as the system moves away from the Southeast on Saturday morning.

"We are still in a lull at 1 a.m., but ingredients coming together for snow to develop before sunrise," The National Weather Service's office in Baltimore tweeted Saturday morning. " Most of the accumulating snow will fall after daybreak but before noon."

The storm's impact will vary along the path, with Washington and New York City expecting between 3 inches and 6 inches of snow Saturday into Sunday, while Boston may be a bit higher, according to Van Dam.

The storm is expected to drop 6 to 8 inches of snow on Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, through the weekend while Philadelphia should get about 3-5 inches, the National Weather Service said.

As the snowstorm moves away from the Southeast, it'll leave a series of temperatures well below average for most areas across the region, and take the wintry conditions to the Northeast.

"Atlanta should be 55F, but only a high of 41F is predicted for Saturday," Van Dam said. "DC should be 49F this time of year ... only predicting a high of 35F for Saturday."

The plunging temperatures and wintry precipitation have affected hundreds of flights, with Atlanta-based Delta announcing 970 flight cancellations Friday and an additional 290 on Saturday. Other airlines, including Southwest and United, said weather conditions will disrupt flights in the South and Northeast on Saturday.

And the snow is not quite finished for Georgia or the Carolinas.

"It will continue through the early morning hours across metro Atlanta, especially across higher elevations," Van Dam said.

"Cold air behind this system will cause some of the already fallen snow to re-freeze on untreated roadways across the Southeast overnight and into Saturday morning."

Whiteouts, blackouts

In the South, flurries started tumbling down Thursday night in South Texas, which rarely gets snow.

Snow and ice led to hazardous driving conditions in southern cities such as Atlanta overnight Friday, but temperatures will be warm enough for it to melt Saturday afternoon, Van Dam said. Snowball fights broke out as about an inch or so of snow fell on the city -- enough to create backups on the highways and to cause most school systems to close early.

Mountainous areas of the South reported the heaviest accumulations Friday, the weather service said. Highlands, North Carolina, got 15 inches, Asheville 6.5 inches and Maggie Valley 12 inches. In Georgia, Sky Valley had almost 9 inches and Clayton 7 inches.

The weather service predicted 1 to 3 inches could fall Friday night and a little more on Saturday. Up to 4 inches of snow fell in areas north of Atlanta.

More than 260,000 customers were without power in the Southeast due to the storm, utility companies said.

In neighboring Alabama, five inches of snow had fallen by Friday in Birmingham, knocking out power and leaving thousands of people in the dark.

The National Weather Service said the Jackson area will get between 3-6 inches of snow.

By Friday, CNN affiliate WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi, reported that 4.9 inches of snow had fallen at Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, making it the largest snowfall since January 1982.