A powerful winter storm is predicted to hammer the heavily-populated Northeast Corridor, from Philadelphia to Boston, with blinding snow and howling winds Thursday.

The storm is expected to rapidly intensify as it roars up the coast on Thursday. Temperatures that were in the 50s and 60s Wednesday will plunge into the 30s and then the 20s on Thursday as the storm draws in frigid air from the north.

Travel may come to a standstill due to snow falling at a clip of over an inch per hour and wind gusts topping 35 mph.

In a briefing, the National Weather Service office serving New York City warned of “dangerous travel conditions,” “blowing and drifting snow” and visibility limited to a quarter-mile at times.

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USA Today reported more than 1,500 flights had been canceled ahead of the storm.

Upward of six inches of snow is possible in major population centers including Philadelphia, Trenton, New York City, Hartford, Providence, Boston and Portland. This entire region is under a winter storm warning.

Snowfall predictions generally increase as you head north. The Weather Service is predicting the following amounts:

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  • Philadelphia: 4 to 6 inches
  • Trenton: 5 to 9 inches
  • New York City: 7 to 11 inches
  • Hartford and Providence: 8 to 12 inches
  • Boston: 8 to 14 inches

The forecast is most uncertain around Philadelphia, where milder temperatures may slow a transition from rain to snow and hold back accumulations some. But confidence is high that the area from northern New Jersey through Boston will get walloped.

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The Weather Service in Boston said snowfall rates could even exceed two inches per hour between late Thursday morning and the afternoon and mentioned the risk of thundersnow.

The European computer model indicated the potential for the hardest-hit areas of eastern New England to exceed 15 inches of snow.

In eastern Long Island and eastern Massachusetts, the Weather Service has posted a blizzard warning. In these areas, snowfall rates could reach two to three inches per hour. The snow combined with wind gusts to 50 mph may produce whiteout conditions.

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The storm, while potent, will move through quickly Thursday — ending in Philadelphia by midday, by around sunset in New York City and 10 p.m. in Boston.

The impact of the storm is predicted to wane considerably from Baltimore southward, where snowfall amounts are expected to generally be about one to two inches or less into the Washington area after record high temperatures near 70 degrees.

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