News of a massive winter storm barreling toward the East Coast understandably has people living in the region upset and concerned.
The National Weather Service used the term "potentially crippling" to describe the resultant blizzard condition during which the snowfall is expected to exceed 2 feet (61 cm) in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., metro areas.
Although tens of millions of people in cities along the mid-Atlantic could be affected by the snowstorm, which could possibly be historic and potentially life-threatening, it appears to directly target Washington.
"This is not just a snow storm, it's a blizzard,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said. “And in fact, what is forecast is an amount of snow that we haven't had in Washington in 90 years."
Updates are, of course, constantly but it can become a little confusing with the news being updated nearly every hour of the day. Therefore, here are some answers to some of the most basic questions you might have on the issue.
What about food?
Long lines are forming at grocery stores and in some supermarkets the shelves are bare because of panic buying. However, it’s better to be prepared in advance. People should shop for groceries as usual instead of stocking up on bread, milk and butter.
Buying non-perishable food items such as tuna, salmon, sardines, corned beef, beans, and dried fruit is always a better option. Do not depend on food delivery since road travel is going to be an issue for everyone during the storm. Other necessary items include pet food, paper towels, toilet paper, and paper plates etc.
What about air travel?
Even before the snowstorm hit the region, thousands of flights were cancelled. There have been more than 2,200 cancellations, most of them at airports in Washington and North Carolina on Jan 22, according to FlightAware.com. The operations are expected to resume on Jan 24.
What about schools?
In the wake of the looming blizzard and consequent road conditions, most of the school systems in Washington have suspended classes on Jan. 22.
“School officials in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Montgomery and Prince William counties have announced they will close schools Friday,” The Washington Post reported.
Last year, some schools in the state had to apologize for remaining open amid heavy snowfall due to which children got stuck in school buses on the road.
What about traffic?
Got this from the old lady, exits are closed on 66 due to abandoned cars pic.twitter.com/7LwrAmEoK3— Mike Lynch (@M_Lynch_) January 21, 2016
Only an inch of snow froze traffic for almost nine hours across Washington, D.C.
More than 150 traffic accidents were reported in Virginia and D.C. ahead of the snowfall, which means the situation could be worse during the actual storm.
Mayor Bowser advised the region’s resident to remain indoors for 36 hours.
"Due to icy road conditions, residents are asked to avoid travel this evening to allow crews to continue to treat the roads asked to clear sidewalks," she said in a statement. "If you must travel this evening, please use extreme caution, as temperatures and precipitation will create hazardous conditions."
What about the homeless?
Of course, the blizzard poses a greater safety and health threat to the region's homeless.
Kenyatta Brunson, director of D.C. Women’s Shelters and Family Transitional Housing at Washington’s Catholic Charities, told USA Today that D.C. has witnessed a drastic increase in the number of homeless people in the past two years who suffer from illnesses such as diabetes and kidney disease.
“We are definitely more concerned” with this storm, she said.
Listing a number of charities where people can make their contributions, The Washington Post advised people to make their donations before the storm strikes.