The storm is expected to hit most of the east coast from Wednesday to Thursday, and several feet of snow and thick ice could cause power outages across the region.
The cities of Boston and New York City could see up to a foot of snow, while parts of the tri-state area could see up to 16 inches.
“There is great confidence that this winter storm will cause significant impacts, including travel disruption and power outages across much of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England,” the Weather Prediction said. Center.
The storm system leaves the Rockies until Tuesday, bringing snow to the southern plains before encountering cooler air further east.
Freezing rain will fall along I-80 and in the mountains of Virginia, with ice buildup of more than a quarter of an inch possible in Roanoke, Charlottesville, west of Beckley, West Virginia.
A mixture of precipitation will stretch from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, with heavy snowfall in the tri-state area and New England, according to maps from the Weather Prediction Center.
Lighter snowfall amounts from Indiana to New Hampshire are expected by Wednesday, WPC said.
High winds will also be of concern, with some areas, particularly along the coast, approaching blizzard conditions. Sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph are possible, with occasional gusts of up to 45 mph.
Shippers have contingency plans for vaccine distribution
The weather could make travel very difficult or even impossible in some areas, the National Weather Service said.
While the storm is not expected to have a major impact on the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine, shippers have made contingency plans to account for weather issues.
The winter snowstorm will hit parts of the mid-Atlantic to New England starting Wednesday, when shippers are expected to make 66 deliveries nationwide. Later in the week, more vaccines will be shipped to Pfizer distribution boxes requiring dry ice.
FedEx does not expect any “significant impact” on the service, company spokeswoman Shannon Davis wrote in an email Monday, adding that they would continue to monitor the forecast.
“We have a team of 15 meteorologists monitoring the conditions 24/7, and we have contingency plans in place for bad weather,” she said.
UPS did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment, but also has an internal team that monitors the weather.
General Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed told reporters on Monday his group was planning many different problems, the worst case being a delivery vehicle or plane crash. Bad weather is in the middle of the spectrum of problems, he said.
Some doses will be kept in a “safety stock” in case of a problem.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Judson Jones, Melissa North and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.