The first weekend of the new year could be a dangerous one for the 80 million Americans who are in the path of what authorities are calling a “historic” winter storm.

As the weather system that has already whalloped western states sweeps eastward, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and Alabama that begins this afternoon.

Stock up, then stay in

Residents were urged by authorities to stock up on supplies sufficient for at least three days – and then stay off the roads. Heavy snow is expected -- or at least, snow that’s considered heavy for areas that are not accustomed to dealing with it. Atlanta, for instance, is bracing for a six inch snowfall by Saturday morning.

Poor travel conditions may be made even worse by freezing rain and sleet, which will make roads icy. While some residents will be able to remain indoors, maintenance workers driving salt trucks will risk slipping and sliding on the very roadways whose conditions they’re trying to improve.