The National Weather Service said more than 65 million people in affected areas are under alert during the winter season.
The NWS said heavy snow is predicted early Sunday in parts of the central/southern Appalachian and mid-Atlantic region.
Rain, snow, hail, and freezing rain – or a combination of them all – will make travel difficult over the three-day holiday weekend in the affected areas.
On Friday, parts of North Dakota recorded 8 to 12 inches of snow.
From there, the system continues to move deeper south, into Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas.
The Southeast Can Get a Mix of Everything
This system will start in the form of rain in many areas of the Southeast on Saturday.
As the temperature drops, that rain will turn into freezing rain, hailstorm and eventually snow in many places.
States of emergency were declared by governors in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, allowing assets and resources to be deployed before the storm struck.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ordered the state Department of Defense to prepare 1,000 National Guard troops to assist with the hurricane response.
In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster urged residents to monitor local weather forecasts and take precautions.
Predicting winter weather in the Southeast is never easy, as times often turn bad.
“These different winter types are very sensitive to small changes,” said meteorologist Kyle Thiem of the NWS office in Atlanta. “A change of just a degree or two can mean the difference from relatively harmless precipitation to very impressive snow and ice accumulations.”
However, it is this system’s slow-moving motion that provides the setup for a terrifying snow storm that could cause millions of people to be struck by lightning.
The Carolinas region will be most likely to experience snow, with cities like Charlotte and Columbia potentially seeing up to half an inch of snow, which, along with strong winds, will bring down trees and power lines.
The system previously issued a snow storm warning for parts of South Carolina and is in effect late Saturday night through Sunday night.
In the southern Appalachian Mountains, snow totals will increase rapidly as altitude. For example, Asheville, North Carolina, is estimated to grow 8-12 inches, but can reach 20 inches at elevations above 4000 feet.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
The storm will turn toward the East Coast on Sunday and Monday, with some places likely to receive more than a foot of heavy snow.
The major metro areas of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston will see some snow, but a change in rainfall will stop the accumulation.
Inner cities like Charleston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Burlington, Vermont will see the heaviest snowfall.
What helps the Northeast is that long before the heavy snowfall, there will be very cold air and dangerous winds blowing.
Wind chill alerts are in effect for more than 20 million people on Friday and Saturday, as it looks like temperatures could drop to minus 40 to 45 over most of New England’s interior.
“The chill of dangerously cold air can cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes,” warns the NWS.
CNN meteorologists Chad Myers, Dave Heinen, Monica Garrett and Haley Brink contributed to this story