DENVER, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called out the National Guard Monday as a dangerous, colossal storm that will sock much of the nation bore down on his state.
Nixon activated 600 guardsmen, whose marching orders are to keep roads clear for emergency responders, including removing large trees and any other debris that blocks their way, KMOX-AM, St. Louis, reported.
The radio station said the National Guard will go door-to-door to check on the welfare of people in neighborhoods where power is lost and help stranded motorists get to safe harbor.
"Most of Missouri is expected to be affected by this severe winter storm, which is predicted to cause treacherous road conditions and possibly widespread power outages," PoliticoMO.com quoted Nixon as saying. "My chief concern is the safety of Missourians, and these orders make state agency resources and the citizen-soldiers of the Missouri National Guard available to help communities respond."
University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton announced the school was being shut down through Tuesday and similar closures were expected elsewhere in the state.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay advised people to "be smart, cautious."
"The real unpredictable factor in the weather is you," he said.
By Wednesday, the storm will have been felt from Colorado's Front Range to the Plains states and Ohio Valley, through the Appalachian Mountains and Mid-Atlantic states and on to the East Coast north into New England, the National Weather Service said.
The storm in the Midwest will feature heavy snow, destructive ice and bitter cold, Weather.com reported.
Wind chills were expected to fall to 30 below zero Tuesday night into Wednesday morning in Omaha, AccuWeather.com reported.
Federal officials said Monday they have been monitoring the situation and urged people in the affected areas to prepare for the onslaught.
"A storm of this size and scope needs to be taken seriously," Craig Fugate, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, said. "If you haven't already, take steps now to get your homes and families ready."
FEMA dispatched an incident management assistance team to Oklahoma to help with coordination should a response be necessary. Liaison officers have been deployed to Kansas, Missouri and Indiana at the request of those states.
Water, generators, meals, cots and blankets have been positioned across the country, just in case, FEMA said.
Many Midwest cities were forecast to get more than a foot of snow, possibly 3 feet in some areas. Winds up to 60 mph were forecast.
Chicago was forecast to get more than 18 inches by early Wednesday. Minneapolis will likely get 3 to 6 inches, but other parts of southeastern Minnesota could get 9 inches, forecasters said.
Farther south and east Tuesday, a major ice storm will likely bring down trees and power lines from St. Louis to Indianapolis to Columbus, Ohio, AccuWeather.com reported.
The blizzard could shut down Kansas City International Airport by Tuesday afternoon and Chicago O'Hare International Airport by Tuesday night.
Temperatures will likely be warm enough from Washington to New York City to bring mainly rain Wednesday.
The heaviest Northeast snow is expected to be away from the Atlantic coast, from interior Pennsylvania into upstate New York and New England, Weather.com said, calling the storm "potentially historic."
Accompanying the blizzard will be a severe thunderstorm threat, with hail and damaging winds, including possible tornadoes, across the South including the Gulf States, AccuWeather.com and Weather.com said.