Major winter storm headed for northeastern United States

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WASHINGTON– The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather alert for the Washington area for Wednesday night.

But don’t roll your eyes if you see only a little snow — Wednesday’s warning is unrelated to the major snowstorm forecast to hit the same area this weekend. It’s expected to miss Northeast Ohio, though its path could change in the coming days.

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One inch of snowfall on Wednesday could be followed by more than a foot of snow by Friday, the National Weather Service said.

For now, drivers in the nation’s capital and surrounding areas are likely to face icy or snowy roads at rush hour.

But if the forecast models are correct, chances are growing that a snowstorm will hit the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast starting Friday. It could be one of the biggest storms on record in Washington.

The manager at Strosniders Hardware in Silver Spring, Maryland, told CNN affiliate WJLA that customers had bought almost all of his ice melt chemical.

“They know (the storm is) coming,” Roy Washington said. “They hear the forecast, and they want to be prepared for it.”

People were also buying heaters, shovels, and sleds, WJLA reported.

Blizzard conditions could deliver more than 2 feet of snow and winds higher than 50 mph in some places, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.

As of Wednesday, it was too early to predict where the heaviest snowfall will happen, but the mid-Atlantic region seems to be in the crosshairs.

It is less certain whether New York City, Philadelphia and Boston will see heavy snowfall, Hennen said.