It looks like Mother Nature will be playing catch-up this weekend. A major winter storm headed to the East Coast could bring heavy snow, high winds and coastal flooding according to Weather.com. On Thursday the storm will start its journey from the Midwest. It's expected to land in the Mid-Atlantic region and most of the East Coast on Friday or Saturday.

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The storm's intensity will depend mostly on its trajectory. Currently meteorologists are predicting heavy snowfall — over a foot — from Washington, D.C., to New York and Boston, says National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The National Weather service has categorized the winter storm threat as high. That means: "Potential impacts include significant travel delays, closures, and threats to life and property. Plan ahead to minimize impact on you and your family."

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So how should you prepare for what's already being called "the biggest storm of this winter season"? Here are a few tips from Ready.gov. Just don't wait until a few hours before it starts snowing.

Check your emergency kit. You should have an adequate stash of food, water and medication to last you several days. Plan on one gallon of water per person per day. Your house should be equipped with snow shovels, warm blankets, rock salt, firewood, a flashlight and a NOAA weather radio, plus extra batteries. Here's a full list of things to stock up on.

Know your storm terms. As you watch the forecast, make sure you know what the weather terminology means.

  • Freezing Rain — Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Wind Chill — It's the temperature it “feels like” when you are outside.
  • Winter Weather Advisory — Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous.
  • Winter Storm Watch — A winter storm is possible in your area.
  • Winter Storm Warning — A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
  • Blizzard Warning — Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow.

Avoid unnecessary travel. Ready.gov advises to stay inside while the storm passes and bring animals inside.

Stay warm and dry. Wear layers of loose-fitting clothing to stay warm. If you get wet while shoveling snow, change your clothes as soon as possible. If you suspect frostbite, cover the affected skin and seek medical help immediately.

Winterize your car. Before the storm, check your tire pressure, car emergency kit, anti-freeze level, snow tires and fuel level. And glance at these other tips on how to winterize your car.

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Remember those pipes. Let cold water drip from your faucets, especially those served by outdoors pipes, during the storm. It prevents the pipes from freezing over.

Make ice. Freeze containers of ice to help keep food in the freezer and fridge cold in case the power goes out. And follow these other tips from the Food and Drug Administration to keep your food safe.

fda winter food(Photo: FDA Food/FDA)

If you lose power or heat for more than a few hours or don't have the supplies you need to stay warm overnight, Ready.gov suggests seeking a designated public shelter in your area if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your five-digit ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area.

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Muriel Vega is a writer with a passion for budget travel and staying safe while abroad. A Georgia State University graduate, she has over 6 years of editorial experience and has written for The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Billfold, among other outlets. In her free time, you can find her baking pies, playing with her two dogs and cat, or planning her next vacation. She spends way too much time on Twitter, one of her favorite social media channels. Her favorite safety tip: Make sure you have all the necessary shots before you go abroad.