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How winter snowstorms wipe out your budget

Winter wonderland? Yeah right. Snow loses its appeal, fast, when its unexpected side effects generate outsize bills.

The East Coast is bracing for its first major snowstorm of 2016, with 15 states expected to have snowfall between now and Sunday. Thursday morning, more than 73 million Americans were under a blizzard watch, winter storm watch, winter storm warning or winter weather advisory for the coming event, according to The Weather Channel, which, like CNBC, is owned by Comcast's NBCUniversal.

"It will be a historic storm," said Paul Walsh, vice president of weather analytics at The Weather Channel.

Washington, D.C., and Baltimore are likely to be hardest hit, receiving up to 2 feet of snow. But hurricane-like wind conditions could also generate power outages and damage along the coast of Delaware and New Jersey as well as on Long Island, Walsh said.

Damages add up, fast. Last winter, storms caused $3.2 billion in insured losses, up from $2.3 billion in the previous period, according to insurance group Munich Re. More than half of those 2014-15 winter losses — $1.8 billion — stemmed from record-setting storms in February 2015.

Consumers see both short- and long-term financial effects from a snowy winter. These eight unexpected winter bills can result in out-of-pocket costs exceeding $1,000 — as well as bump up insurance premiums over the long haul.

—By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant
Published 18 February 2015
Updated 21 January 2016

John Tlumacki | The Boston Globe | Getty Images