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(NEW YORK) — The threat of a huge winter storm has prompted panic and preparations along the East Coast.

Residents in at least a half-dozen states are being warned to keep their travel plans light and prepare for potentially damaging winter weather starting early this weekend.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is confident city services can handle the storm.

He noted that weather forecasts predict New York will receive 8 to 12 inches of snow starting early Saturday morning and carrying through Sunday.

“New Yorkers should be ready for a big storm this weekend,” de Blasio said.

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia noted that they are expecting blizzard conditions, gale-force winds and white-out conditions on the roads.

De Blasio said, “We’ve all been lulled to sleep a bit because of what warm a winter it’s been. I think people need to take this very seriously and realize that this is a real thing.”

Washington, D.C., received its first taste of the storm Wednesday, getting under two inches of snow but prompting more than 100 accidents and traffic jams.

Police in Arlington, Virginia, said there were “hundreds” of drivers stranded on several roads amid reports of hospitalizations for minor injuries.

More than 100 crashes were being investigated in Virginia as snow fell before this weekend’s expected major storm. Most involved damage to vehicles only, according to the Virginia State Police.

Blizzard and winter storm watches for parts of Maryland, Washington, Virginia, West Virginia and Arkansas were issued by the National Weather Service Wednesday for Thursday through Saturday.

States of emergency have been declared in Virginia by Governor Terry McAuliffe, in Washington, D.C., by Mayor Muriel Bowser and in North Carolina by Governor Pat McCrory.

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