Sections of interior southern New England and New York could get up to a foot of snow by the time the storm moves out, with forecasts generally calling for 6 to 12 inches. New York City, likely to see 3 to 7 inches, issued a snow alert. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the city's commuters to leave their cars at home in case major highways are closed for Thursday's evening rush hour.
"We are looking at a serious storm situation," Cuomo said.
Although lesser amounts of snow were forecast to the south, Philadelphia and parts of southern New Jersey were expected to see 3 to 7 inches of blowing, drifting snow.
In Toms River, N.J., Jonas Caldwell said he was prepared for whatever the storm might bring.
"Santa brought me a snow blower, and I've got rock salt for the ice, so now I'm just waiting for the storm," he said while grabbing a coffee at a convenience store.
Caldwell, an investment adviser, said he could work from home if necessary, but he was hoping that wouldn't be the case.
"There are too many distractions at home," he said. "But I won't be stupid ... If it gets as bad as they say it will be, or looks like it will, I'll be staying put."
In Hartford, Hal Guy, of nearby Glastonbury, was shopping for snow shovels — three, to be exact.
"We broke a couple in the last storm," he said. "We have four kids, so, three shovels, and we still have a little one back home."
Guy said three of his kids, girls ages 8, 10 and 12, have been out of school for two weeks for the holidays and hope to get a couple more days off with the snow.
Over in Maine, where some communities are still recovering from a recent ice storm that cut power to more than 100,000 customers, people seemed prepared for more winter weather.
Kelly St. Denis, of Auburn, went skiing Wednesday at the Sunday River ski area with family and friends. She said it's been cold but the skiing has been good.
"Hey, it's winter in Maine," she said. "We go with it."
Associated Press writers Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vt., Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., and David Sharp in Portland, Maine, and Bruce Shipkowski in Toms River, N.J., contributed to this report.