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Winter Blast Slams East

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Jon Sweeney / NBC News Jon Sweeney / NBC News

(NBC News) -- With memories of the dreaded polar vortex still fresh, winter deals another blow Tuesday, slamming the Northeast with a blast of cold air and up to a foot of snow.

"They are going to have quite a snowstorm," said Kevin Roth, a lead meteorologist with the Weather Channel. "By this evening, all four cities from Philadelphia to Boston could face a pretty bad commute home. We're expecting a good six to 10 inches. It will be snowing pretty hard."  

"Every once in while these little winter storms go bananas and we think this might be the one," he added. 

A shortage of propane gas in the Midwest and Northeast is impacting millions of homes and businesses in rural areas beyond the reach of utilities.

A winter storm warning has been issued for New York City and the surrounding areas by the National Weather Servicefrom noon Tuesday through Wednesday morning, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has activated all of its emergency preparation systems, according to NBC New York.

A similar warning is in place for Boston and other parts of New England, but high winds and a repeat astronomical high tide that flooded families along the coast in early January are the main worries.

"We're expecting winds at 40-50 mph," Capt. Robert Tripp of the Duxbury Police Department told NBC affiliate WHDH.

Winter storm warnings also have been issued for Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C., as well as Connecticut, and New Jersey, said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman with theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In D.C., the federal government is closed and many local school districts have canceled classes Tuesday, according to NBC Washington.

After the snow, there will be little respite as temperatures from the Plains to Maine stay cold, theWeather Channel's Kevin Noth said.

"They have already dropped 30 to 40 degrees across the Dakotas, Iowa and Minnesota and 35 in Chicago," he added. "That cold air is going to drop into the South and then there's another surge of cold air coming on Friday."

In anticipation of the cold and snow, Ohio Gov. John Kasich followed the lead of officials in 17 other U.S. states — mostly in the Midwest and North — who declared energy emergencies and loosened rules for propane.

In many of these states, residents are also being urged to cut down on propane usage as supplies are limited.  

The West meanwhile will remain high and dry said Kevin Noth, adding the continued drought in California was the ideal condition for wildfires.

"Perhaps next week we can talk about rain coming to California," he added.  

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