A severe winter storm warning was issued for New York City on Tuesday forecasting snow accumulation is expected to total 6 to 12 inches.

The warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice are expected or occuring and strong winds are also possible making travel very hazardous or impossible, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm warning is in effect from 5 a.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Albany. The snow will intensify by late Wednesday morning and taper to snow showers and flurries by the late evening, the forecast said.

We don't know if the storm will be as severe as forecast, but if it is, it really does present potentially serious safety hazards, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference today.

All the city's public schools, Public School Athletic League events and all City-funded after-school programs will be closed and suspended tomorrow due to the winter storm, Bloomberg announced. City government offices will remain open.

 We do expect the schools will be open on Thursday, although we'll make a decision to resume classes obviously based on conditions later in the day tomorrow, Bloomberg noted.

Bloomberg also urged motorists to use mass transit instead of driving in or into New York City unless is an emergency.

The National Weather Service in Albany said that the winter weather is due to a rapidly developing storm off the coast of Virginia tonight. The storm will move northeast during the day on Wednesday and south of Long Island and Cape Cod by the evening.