The Christmas storm moves east, bringing snow, strong winds and heavy rain

A Christmas Eve storm hit the east coast on Thursday after wreaking havoc in the Midwest and North Great Lakes on Wednesday, dropping up to 13 inches of snow with the blizzard conditions reported in Dakotas and Minnesota.

More than 100 million people will spend Christmas Eve under some kind of storm alert, from flood warnings to winter storms and strong wind warnings.

Strong winds and heavy rains will hit the regions from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast, as the rain changes to snow on Thursday afternoon and evening throughout the Ohio Valley, Appalachians and the Northeast interior. The change from rain to snow can be abrupt, which can cause dangerous travel conditions for unsuspecting drivers.

Further south, strong storms capable of producing winds and damaging tornadoes are likely in southeastern Virginia, eastern Carolinas and northern Florida. The tornado threat will be greatest across the eastern Carolinas, where tornadoes are rare at this time of year.

On Christmas Day, heavy rains of 1 to 4 inches, strong winds and the risk of flooding will continue for parts of the Northeast and New England, especially during the morning. The greatest risk of flooding will be close to rivers.

Meanwhile, snow showers will lead to White Christmas in cities like Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

Totals of 3 to 6 inches of snow can be expected from the Upper Midwest to the Ohio Valley, with isolated totals of up to 12 inches near the Great Lakes and the Appalachians.

Wind gusts of 50 to 65 mph on the East Coast on Thursday and Friday can cause felled trees and significant power outages. Meteorologists have suggested that people bring Christmas decorations and carry devices, including any Christmas gifts, before the storm.

Behind the storms, temperatures will drop, especially in Southeast and Florida, which will experience the coldest Christmas in more than a decade. The temperatures predicted in the mid-1960s for Miami will mean its coldest Christmas in 21 years and a rise in the mid-30s for Atlanta will be the fourth coldest Christmas ever recorded and the coldest since 2004.