At least 4 dead as 1,400-mile-long snowstorm heads east

ABC News Storm alerts are in place from Kansas to Washington D.C. on Saturday

The storm is expected to drop 8 to 12 inches of snow in the St. Louis metropolitan area into eastern IL between Friday and early Sunday. "We're going to see a significant snow event for the mid-Atlantic to start the year for 2019". Snow is covering roads and making driving unsafe.

Dozens of flights were canceled at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, which described the onslaught of snow on Twitter as one of its biggest single-day winter storms in years.

The Weather Channel reported that almost 500 weather-related motor vehicle accidents had been reported in Missouri.

The National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for Missouri, as well as IL and Indiana.

The storm began to spread east into the Mid-Atlantic region, with between 5 and 10 inches (13 to 25 centimetre's) of snow expected in the Washington area, including parts of northern and central Maryland, by Sunday.

Winter storm warnings stretch from areas in Kansas to Rhode Island as Gia continues to drop snow across hundreds of miles.

With snow already falling in the nation's capital Saturday, updated forecasts for total snowfall jumped from 2-4 inches to 8-12 inches, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

In Kansas City ground crews spent hours clearing snow from Arrowhead Stadium ahead of a playoff between Kansas Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDoT) on Twitter warned residents not to travel in the storm if it isn't necessary. Philadelphia is expected to receive a few inches of snow, but areas north of there are expected to be spared, Orrison said.

There is a small chance that the southern Appalachians get enough freezing rain and sleet to turn into an ice event Saturday into Sunday.

More heavy rain also will fall on the already-saturated South.

The DOT tweeted early in the afternoon that all the eastbound lanes of I-44 had been cleared.

The Missouri Highway Patrol has advised drivers to stay off the roads if possible.

Metro areas that are included in warnings are Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., Roanoke and Greensboro - these areas are most likely to see risky travel conditions and heavy snow and/or ice according to The Weather Channel. "More cancellations are likely on Saturday and Sunday", airport officials said.

The University of Missouri men's basketball game at the University of SC was also canceled Saturday because of weather-related travel issues, according to the team's Twitter account.