Residents of New York and New England have hunkered down for a fierce Nor'easter bringing high winds, deep cold and up to 60cm of snow, a blizzard predicted to be one of the worst in recent memory.
Forecasts of a potentially brutal storm, which moved up the East Coast after forming in the Atlantic Ocean off the Carolinas, had prompted airlines to cancel 5000 flights through the weekend and delay more than 8000.
The governors of Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York all declared states of emergency, warned of likely power outages and urged residents to stay off the roads on Saturday.
"This is going to be a very big storm, probably one of the biggest we've experienced in the last few years. Conditions are expected to make travel nearly impossible, and we're urging everyone, to the extent possible to stay home tonight and tomorrow," Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker told a news conference.
The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for coastal areas and Amtrak cancelled passenger rail service across much of the region.
"The Nor'easter that will move up through the mid-Atlantic States to the Northeast this weekend will bring extreme cold and hazardous conditions to many communities," Homeland Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall said in a statement on Friday evening.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for the Boston metropolitan area and its nearly 4.9 million residents, predicting "whiteout conditions" and damaging winds.
Forecasters said up to 60cm of snow could fall in some areas and wind gusts of 113km/h were expected starting early on Saturday. Southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the island of Martha's Vineyard, were expected to get the highest snow totals.
Winter storm advisories and warnings were also in effect from the Carolinas up through Maine.
The storm was approaching nearly 44 years to the day after a monstrous blizzard crippled New England in 1978. Striking with little warning and dumping more than 70cm of snow on Boston, that catastrophic storm killed dozens of people, trapped others in their homes and shut down major highways for a week.
Photographs posted on social media showed shoppers crowded into grocery stores, picking shelves clean as they stocked up on essentials ahead of the storm.
The weather service warned that blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility and strong winds could bring down tree branches and knock out power in parts of the region.
Australian Associated Press
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