(CNN) -- A quick-hitting Northeast snowstorm that began coating the nation's capital Wednesday has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights for travelers in New England and the Eastern Seaboard, according to airline spokesmen.
Winter storm warnings were in effect Wednesday from the southern Appalachian mountains to coastal Massachusetts and were expected to expire Thursday morning, said CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.
Snow was falling about an inch an hour in Washington, D.C., which was expected to receive 4 to 6 inches Wednesday evening, he said.
Federal employees and most schools in Washington ended business early on Wednesday.
New York is expected to receive 8 to 12 inches of snow starting about midnight, Morris said.
Boston should also see 8 to 12 inches, with the heaviest snow falling Thursday morning, he said.
Nashville and central Tennessee got 2 to 4 inches of snow Wednesday, Morris said.
The snowfall was even prompting airlines to pre-emptively cancel flights.
Among the biggest cancellations were Delta Airlines' 575 flights between Washington, D.C., and Boston, said spokesman Anthony Black.
American Airlines/American Eagle spokesman Ed Martelle said the two airlines cancelled 280 flights for Wednesday and 65 more are cancelled for Thursday between Washington, D.C., and Boston.
United cancelled 276 flights Wednesday and proactively cancelled 71 more for Thursday, and Continental cancelled 322 flights Wednesday and 108 more for Thursday, said Christen David, spokesman for both airlines.
Southwest Airlines canceled more than 100 flights Wednesday in the Northeast, said spokeswoman Brandy King.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley wants people to stay off the roads.
"This is a serious traffic hazard and challenge," O'Malley said at a press briefing from the state's operation center in Hanover.
Maryland officials said 1,600 maintenance workers and 1,400 pieces of equipment would be on the roads all night battling the storm.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the area until early Thursday morning. Snow accumulations could reach 10 inches.
One problem that could hamper snow removal is the lack of sand and chemical preparation for roadways, due to the recent heavy rains.
"We have not been able to successfully pretreat the surfaces," O'Malley told reporters after a briefing with Maryland public safety and transportation officials.
Maryland has not activated the National Guard, but they are ready for deployment if needed, officials said.
In Florida, the National Weather Service has dispatched survey teams to investigate damage caused by storms that moved across the state Tuesday evening. They found that a tornado near Boca Raton had snapped and uprooted trees, CNN meteorologist Morris said.
In St. Petersburg, Florida, 90 mph straight-line winds damaged a gas station and injured one person, Morris said.
A tornado near Alva, Florida, destroyed and damaged six mobile homes, and straight-line winds between 60 and 90 mph damaged several homes near Groveland, Florida, Morris said.
This snowstorm comes after many had just dug themselves out of a blizzard that walloped the Northeast earlier this month.
The storm that hit in early January closed hundreds of schools, stopped the rail system between New York City and points north for days and grounded hundreds of flights.
Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont reached up to 30 inches, while most areas got 8 to 16 inches of snow.
CNN's Eric Fiegel contributed to this report