- Associated Press - Friday, January 22, 2016

Here’s what we know about the winter storm hitting the eastern United States:

- What is it? Possibly one of history’s ten worst winter storms to hit the East Coast. Heavy snow and high winds are moving across the northern mid-Atlantic region. Forecasts show Washington and Baltimore are in the bulls-eye, but Philadelphia and New York City also will get socked.

- Why now? All the ingredients have come together to create a blizzard with brutally high winds, dangerous inland flooding, white-out conditions and even the possibility of thunder snow, with Washington squarely in the bulls-eye, forecasters said. The storm initially picked up warm water from the Gulf of Mexico, then gained much more moisture from the warmer-than-usual Gulf Stream off the East Coast.

- How long? The snow arrived Friday afternoon in Washington, and it’s expected to continue into Sunday as the slow-moving storm moves up the coast.

- How bad? Life-threatening conditions are possible as the storm moves from Kentucky and Tennessee through the Virginias and up the East Coast. Already, several people have died in accidents on icy roads. Extremely heavy snow and 50 mph gusts could reduce visibility to zero, toppling trees and causing power outages. Forecasters expect flooding, though not as bad as Superstorm Sandy’s.

- How much? It could fall as heavily as 1 to 3 inches an hour and last for more than 24 hours in places, said meteorologist Paul Kocin with the National Weather Service. That puts estimates at more than 2 feet for Washington and Baltimore, a foot to 18 inches for Philadelphia and 8 inches to a foot in New York.

- What to do? STAY INSIDE! Authorities pleaded with people to hunker down by 3 p.m. Friday and stay there until the storm is over.

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