HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) — Residents in the northeastern U.S. have begun preparing for a winter storm that could dump up to 7 inches (177 millimeters) on New York City.

Snow is expected to begin falling overnight in some areas, promising a messy commute for the first business day of the new year, but the full storm isn't expected to hit until later Thursday.

"There will be travel problems," Hugh Johnson, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said Wednesday.

Near blizzard conditions are forecast for areas along the coast. The bulk of the snow is expected to hit southern New England and southern sections of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.