Blizzard, Washington, Jan. 24, 2016
A widespread winter storm on the U.S. East Coast is expected to drop 5 inches of snow on Washington this Presidents Day. Above, people sled down the snow on the hill below the U.S. Capitol in the District of Columbia Jan. 24, 2016. Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

An expansive winter storm bore down on the East Coast Monday, scuttling hundreds of flights and threatening an icy commute Tuesday after the long holiday weekend. As much as 5 inches of snow was expected to blanket Washington by nightfall, with less accumulation in New York, before turning first to freezing rain and then to rain amid rising temperatures, National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Burke said.

“It could be pretty tricky for the morning commute on Tuesday,” Burke said.

The New York City Office of Emergency Management issued a travel advisory for Monday and Tuesday, warning residents about potentially slick roads and possible coastal flooding.

After record-breaking cold, intensified by gusting winds, gripped the Northeast over the Presidents Day holiday weekend, temperatures at the beginning of the workweek Tuesday were predicted to rise as high as 56 degrees Fahrenheit in New York and 53 degrees Fahrenheit in Washington. Mild temperatures were expected to stretch into the weekend.

“This system pushes the Arctic air out of here,” Burke said.

Washington’s streets were almost empty because of the holiday and due to the snow coming down in heavy, wet flakes. Neil Emery, 54, a tourist from Nassau, Bahamas, said he, his wife and daughter had been shocked by the bitter cold but were reveling in the snowfall. “It’s very Christmas-y, really,” he said. The cold weather “is a good excuse for hot chocolates through the day.”

Flash-flood warnings were issued for Monday for northern Mississippi, which was pounded by heavy rains that also drenched Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The vast storm stretched to western parts of Pennsylvania and New York state, where Buffalo was expected to get more than 12 inches of snow.

New England ski resorts, struggling through a relatively warm and snowless winter, may receive as much as 5 inches of snow, meteorologist Burke said.

By midday Monday, more than 700 U.S. flights were canceled, according to, the flight tracking website. Many airlines waived change fees as more flights were scrapped.