Major roads were treated with saltwater solution while residents rushed to grocery stores ahead of the storm. Hardware stores were running out of snow melt, shovels and even snow blowers on Thursday.
Snow shovels moving fast
"The fastest moving thing has been snow shovels. We are down to the last few of them, which is like three or four," said Derek Staton, who works at a hardward store in the Virginia.
Politicians and municipal leaders are assuming the stance of "better safe than sorry" and are advising citizens to do the same.
"Be sensible, stay home on Saturday unless you absolutely have to travel somewhere. Get your cars off town roads. Try to put them in a driveway because it makes it easier for town crews to come through and plow curb to curb. Obviously if the streets are lined with cars it impedes our ability to get the streets cleared," warned Anthony Santino, a city supervisor in Hempstead, N.Y.
Some cities and states have declared a state of emergency starting Friday evening.
"Our first and main priority is keeping Marylanders safe," Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said.
Residents of the nation's capital are especially nervous. Washington has a reputation for getting paralyzed even in mildly inclement weather. Barely 5 centimeters of snowfall on Wednesday night had many commuters stranded on major highways, with some abandoning their cars on the side of the road.
One commuter said, "There were about 20 cars. The cops didn't show up for about five hours. Cars were still coming down and just ping-ponging and hanging out down there. We talked to the cops and they told us we would get charged with a hit-and-run."
It took some suburban residents hours to get home. Slick roads in the city caused many accidents, forcing Mayor Muriel Bowser to apologize: "We are very sorry for an inadequate response."
Public transportation will be closed during the snowstorm in Washington, and even after the major roads are cleared, getting around will remain tricky for a while.