And it’s not just the federal government that’s shutting down in Washington DC, but the entire city — and for good reason. The infrastructure in the Beltway can barely handle a small snowfall, as the city rarely sees any more than that at one time, but even a metropolitan area like Minneapolis/St. Paul would struggle with eight inches overnight:

As Bloomberg reports, the heavy snowfall extends up and down the eastern US, and power failures have been widespread. If you’re thinking about traveling to the East Coast today, get used to disappointment:

A winter storm that piled as much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow and ice across the U.S. South spread into the Northeast with gusty winds, shutting government offices inWashington and blanketing streets for start of the morning commute.

More than half a million homes and businesses were without power as of 7 a.m., while more than 4,000 flights were canceled around the U.S. Twelve deaths in the South were blamed onthe storm, the Associated Press said. …

The National Weather Service predicted 8 to 12 inches for New York along with wind gusts of 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour by the time the system moves out tomorrow, while Washington may get 6 to 10 and parts of New Jersey 10 to 14. An ice storm warning was posted for central Georgia as winter weather alerts stretched north to Maine.

Reuters puts the upper projection limit for snowfall at 18 inches, and reports that 13 deaths have been attributed to the storm:

A deadly and intensifying winter storm packing heavy snow, sleet and rain pelted a huge swath of the U.S. East Coast on Thursday, grounding flights and shuttering schools and government offices.

Winter storm warnings and advisories were in place from Georgia up to Maine, and the powerful system could blanket the Atlantic Coast over the next two days with 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cms) of snow, said Jared Guyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. …

About 4,470 domestic and international flights were canceled and another roughly 290 were delayed early on Thursday morning, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.

The storm system, which has dumped heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain from eastern Texas to the Carolinas since Tuesday, was blamed for at least 13 deaths in the Southern region and for knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of customers.

The storm is shifting north, CNN says this morning:

By the weekend, this should subside, but it’s just another episode in a tough winter season. I’ve seen some griping in social media about being a bit wimpy and ordering closures “before the first snowflake falls,” but as some in the South learned the last time, it’s better to get ahead of the storm and keep people off the roads than to wait until it’s too late.  Chick-Fil-A can’t come to everyone’s rescue.