Governor Roy Cooper said he will declare a state of emergency for parts of North Carolina hit by the coming winter storm.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service say the Coastal Plain and the Interstate 95 corridor could see as many as four inches of snow. The Triangle could see up to an inch in some places.
At a Wednesday press conference, the governor warned people of the hazards that come with extreme cold weather.
"We're asking people to stay off the roads tonight and tomorrow because travel can become dangerous and remember that unnecessary travel not only puts you at risk but also can potentially put emergency responders and law enforcement at risk who have to respond to help you," he said.
Cooper also reminded people who lose power not to run generators or use grills indoors.
Even if only a small amount of snow falls overnight, it's likely to stick because of the cold temperatures, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist James Morrow.
"Behind the storm, we are expecting sub-freezing temperatures," said Morrow. "So that's going to keep the road conditions pretty dicey. We're not going to see a warm-up right away, so they will be slowly improving throughout the day Thursday and Friday. But we still could see some slick spots, especially in areas that see a little bit more snow."
The National Weather Service in Wakefield, Virginia, has posted a blizzard warning for extreme northeastern North Carolina.
Specifically, the warning is in effect for Camden and Currituck counties from 4 p.m. Wednesday until 1 p.m. Thursday. Forecasters are calling for up to 10 inches of snow, and with 50 mph wind gusts; whiteout conditions are possible.
Travel will be very dangerous to impossible during the warning period, including the morning commute on Thursday, according to the weather service.
Forecasters are calling for between 4 inches and 7 inches, with localized amounts of up to 10 inches. A trace amount of ice is also possible.
Elsewhere, the North Carolina Zoo is offering half-priced admission while the bitter cold wave sweeps the South, giving visitors a chance to see polar bears frolic in their kind of weather.
Zoo visitors, however, shouldn't expect to see any lions, elephants or gorillas native to Africa on view. With the mercury dipping below freezing, animals more suited to warmer climes will remain in their behind-the-scenes quarters at the zoo in Asheboro.
Local news outlets report the zoo is offering the special discount rates through Saturday.
Besides polar bears, Arctic foxes, elk and other cold-tolerant animals will be on display. And for humans wary of venturing outdoors in dangerously low temperatures, the zoo is promising heated habitat complexes and transportation to stay warm.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.