(CNN) - A Nor'easter is dumping snow and pushing winds into the US East Coast early Tuesday -- the beginnings of a monster storm that has placed 31 million people under a blizzard warning.
So far, more than 7,600 US flights have been canceled and thousands of schools have closed due to what could be a historic storm. Winter storm warnings and watches have been hoisted over a region stretching from North Virginia into Maine.
Local and state authorities warned residents to be prepared and to avoid unnecessary travel as winds in some areas could reach up to 50 to 60 mph, reducing visibility to zero.
"We're talking one in every three people in the US are dealing with significant snow in the forecast in the next several hours," said CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.
Major cities including New York and Boston could get deluged with snow if the storm hugs the coastline, but they could see significantly less snow if the storm shifts closer to land.
Weather models on early Tuesday showed that the heaviest snow, as much as two feet, could hit areas west of New York such as Scranton and Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Among major developments:
-- Snow is falling in Washington DC up through Philadelphia, and New York City as of Tuesday morning.
-- 31 million people are under a blizzard warning, 31 million are under a winter storm warning and 9 million are under a winter weather advisory.
-- The heaviest snow is expected to hit between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and could turn into sleet later, according to the CNN Weather Center.
-- Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City school districts will be closed Tuesday along with many government offices.
-- Airlines canceled over 7,600 US flights scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Flightaware.com.
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