Snow began falling in parts of the Northeast on Tuesday, the vanguard of a major storm that has already led to the cancellation of thousands of flights, an unexpected closure of some federal offices and even prompted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to drop plans for his inauguration party.

The storm could bring eight to 12 inches of snow to Philadelphia and the New York metropolitan area and perhaps more than a foot in Boston as it works its way through New England. The storm -- an unwelcome sequel to the polar vortex whose icy grip choked the Midwest and East earlier this month -- is also expected to bring wind chills as nasty as 10 degrees below zero. 

“A wave of low pressure is developing along a strong Arctic front currently sinking southward through the Mid-Atlantic, and this is expected to develop into a strong surface low off the coast of New England,” the National Weather Service said. “This will result in an expanding shield of moderate to locally heavy snow from the central Appalachians to southern New England, including all of the Mid-Atlantic region.

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PHOTOS: Northeast is digging out from snowstorm

“Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories are in effect for these areas, where snowfall amounts ranging from a couple of inches to nearly a foot are expected. The greatest totals are likely for southern New England, and gusty winds are likely in this area to accompany the snow,” the weather service forecast.

Heavy winds and precipitation are expected, especially in the power-centric nexus from the nation’s capital to New York and on to Boston. Vehicle travel throughout the Boston-Washington corridor was expected to be hindered by Polar Vortex II.

Nearly 2,200 flights have already been canceled, according to the flight-tracking site Flightaware.com and thousands more delayed Tuesday. An additional 450 flights for Wednesday were also canceled as airlines prepared for the worst.

Schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky stayed closed for an extra day after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, or planned to send students home early.

Government offices in Washington were closed, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management said on its website.

Christie, whose inauguration for his second term after his landslide reelection has been marred by state Legislature and federal investigations of complaints that his administration tried to bully political opponents, was forced to modify his schedule of events by canceling an evening party on Ellis Island.

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