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By Dennis Romero
A major winter storm could create daily travel and commuting problems for as many as 200 million people in 39 US states, forecasters said on Tuesday.
The system is expected to deliver rain, snow and ice over southern, central-western, central Atlantic and southern New England.
"A big winter storm will affect areas of the Upper Midwest to the east coast starting tonight," the National Weather Service said Tuesday during a discussion of weather forecasts. "Significant amounts of moisture will spread to the north and east of the Gulf of Mexico."
According to NBC News meteorologist Dylan Dreyer, the upper level system could deliver 6 inches of snow in parts of the Midwest, 4 inches in Washington and 2 inches in New York.
Tuesday night, he had already visited the Rockies and Plains.
As the storm reaches the east coast and southern New England on Wednesday afternoon, some precipitation will turn into rain, she said.
The officials called for caution before his arrival. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy declared the state of emergency effective at 5 am Wednesday. "We urge New Jerseyers to drive with caution and exercise their best judgment during this period," he said in a statement.
New York City was also preparing for a difficult day of travel, and the city's emergency management department issued a notice for Wednesday. "We expect snow and slush to develop in the afternoon, resulting in difficult daily commutes," Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito said in a statement. "We advise you to use public transport, give you more travel time and be cautious."
The National Weather Service issued a weather advisory for the city regarding snow, slush and / or freezing rain.
Pennsylvania's governor, Tom Wolf, also urged motorists to stay home Wednesday. "This storm could lead to travel problems and I encourage everyone who can stay off the road to do it tomorrow."
The state's Ministry of Transportation has banned commercial vehicles on certain roads. It will begin at 6 am Wednesday and was expected to last "despite the storm," according to a statement.
Temperatures below freezing also prompted preparations for the homeless.
Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Ras J. Baraka, announced the activation of a "Code Blue" warning of below-freezing temperatures and the opening of emergency shelters. In Washington, city officials declared an "emergency situation" and asked residents to report homeless people in need of shelter.
The storm had already affected air travelers on Tuesday.
American Airlines has issued a "travel alert" and canceled 280 flights, mainly small planes using regional airports, scheduled for Wednesday.
In a statement, Southwest Airlines announced Wednesday flights "delayed, diverted and / or canceled" in the Ohio Valley and in the north-east of the country. Travelers flying to Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia and Washington airports could be affected, the airline said.
And in Washington, Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport seemed to suggest that travelers think twice before flying on Wednesday. "Several airlines have removed change fees for customers who want to proactively change their flight to avoid the winter storm of tomorrow," the airport tweeted.