CHICAGO - Washington was due to be hit by heavy, wet snow on Wednesday as a fierce snowstorm headed east after blanketing the Midwestern United States, snarling traffic and causing hundreds of flight cancellations.

The storm was expected to move eastward over the Ohio Valley and then the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic states on Wednesday, hitting Washington with its biggest snowfall in possibly two years, according to the National Weather Service.

"It will be a wet, heavy, gloppy snow consistent with wallpaper paste," said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro.

The Washington area was expected to get several inches of snow overnight, with four to six inches (10 to 15 cm) accumulating by the end of the day on Wednesday, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

In Chicago, where the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning through midnight, residents girded for between 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) of snow.

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