As many as 80 million people are under winter weather alerts from that region to the Northeast, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.
“I am particularly concerned for the impending ice storm that will impact the interior of South and North Carolina. Following a round of heavy snow, up to 3/4 of an inch of ice could accumulate,” Van Dam said.
“This will certainly bring power outages in the area as winds gust over 40 mph,” he added.
Greenville, South Carolina, and Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina are under winter storm warnings, forecasters said. As much as a foot of snow could fall near the edge of the Blue Ridge escarpment in Greenville and as much as 20 inches of snow could accumulate above 4,000 feet of elevation in that area. A tenth of an inch of ice is also possible.
The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning for portions of South Carolina, in effect through early Monday, with temperatures likely to remain sub-freezing until the start of next week.
Charlotte could get up to a foot of snow in the foothills, and possibly as much as a half-inch of ice. Raleigh is expected to get up to 2 inches of snow and maybe a quarter-inch of ice, forecasters said.
“The most significant icing is expected over the Carolinas this morning. Significant impacts to travel across these regions are expected,” the NWS said.
The governors of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency, allowing resources to be positioned ahead of the storm’s arrival.
Parts of northern and central Georgia could also see powerful winds Sunday, the National Weather Service in Atlanta said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ordered the state Department of Defense to prepare 1,000 National Guard troops to assist in the response to the storm.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
The storm will turn northeastward to the East Coast Sunday and Monday.
Some snow will fall in major metro areas, but a change to rain will hold down the accumulations. Washington could get 2-4 inches, while Philadelphia could get 1-2 inches. New York and Boston are expected to get about an inch each.
Heavier snow is expected elsewhere, with more than a foot expected in some locations.
Snowfall intensity in the region may be heavy enough to evade significant icing, but NWS Baltimore warns that untreated surfaces may still lead to dangerous travel conditions where ice accumulates.
The majority of accumulating snowfall will occur Sunday afternoon through Monday morning.
Interior cities such as Charleston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Syracuse and Burlington, Vermont, will see the heaviest snow.
Prior to the snow event moving into the region, the Northeast will experience cold temperatures and dangerous wind chill, forecasters said.
Coastal flooding also expected
Alongside the snowfall potential, strong winds from the east associated with the storm system could cause major coastal flooding of up to 3 feet above ground in some areas along the Northeast coast during high tide.
Parts of New York City, Long Island and some areas of Connecticut are under coastal flood warnings, forecasters said.
The timing of winds shifting from the east to the south will largely determine the severity of flooding, with moderate flooding potential if winds shift prior to high tide.
“Widespread moderate to locally major flooding of vulnerable areas is possible near the waterfront and shoreline, including roads, parking lots, parks, lawns, and homes and businesses with basements near the waterfront,” the NWS in New York said Saturday.
Inundation could cause road closures and structural damage along the Atlantic coastline.
CNN meteorologists Allison Chinchar, Chad Myers, Dave Hennen, Monica Garrett, and Haley Brink contributed to this story