RICHMOND, Va. — Millions of people in Southern states braced for a harsh wintry storm that could bring immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads or deadly floods.

Governors and local officials from Texas to Virginia have declared emergencies ahead of the storm’s arrival to free up funds and manpower to help mitigate the storm’s effect.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday that residents in the some parts of the state should be ready for lengthy fight with Mother Nature.

“We’re preparing for days of impact, not hours,” Cooper said.

Officials have warned residents to prepare emergency kits and staff off roads in impacted areas.

“Virginians should take all necessary precautions to ensure they are prepared for winter weather storm impacts,” said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

The National Weather Service said a “prolonged period of snow is expected” starting Saturday and lasting until Monday, with the heaviest snow expected in northwest North Carolina and southern Virginia.

Heavy rains are expected in other parts of the South, creating possible floods in coastal areas.

North Carolina’s largest electric utility, Duke Energy, has said more there could more than 500,000 power outages.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the sixth busiest airport in the country, said American Airlines will reduce its operations starting Saturday evening and scattered cancellations are expected through Monday morning.

Signs of a pending monster snow fall were prevalent. Traffic crews have been busy treating roads ahead of the storm. Amtrak has canceled or modified some routes because of the storm. And many hardware stores have sold out of ice melt.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.