WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The energy infrastructure for the estimated 75 million people in the path of a major winter storm system is in jeopardy, a federal U.S. report said.
"A combination of heavy snow and strong winds could lead to downed trees and power outages, and utilities in affected regions are preparing for storm-related impacts," a briefing from the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Maryland's primary utility company, issued a consumer advisory Thursday, saying it called in an extra 900 contractors to support its crew of 3,200 employees on hand to respond to the storm.
Well-water customers were advised to fill their bathtubs with water and commuters were called on to fill their gas tanks in the event area service stations lose power.
A state of emergency declared by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan went into force early Friday morning. Hogan's office said as much as 2 feet of snow is expected from the storm.
"Our state is taking every precaution -- coordinating all available resources -- to prepare to clear roads, manage incidents, and recover from this storm," he said.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said it was coordinating with all state utilities to prepare for the arrival of the storm.
Schools in the nation's capitol were closed Friday and government offices will close by midday as the storm moves into the region.
Most governments across the region are under some form of a state of emergency as the storm system tracks northeast. Apart from the heavy snow, gale warnings are in effect for much of the eastern coast, adding to threats to energy infrastructure.
According to the National Weather Service, there's a 96 percent chance that more than a foot of snow will fall on the National Mall.