A mammoth late-winter storm is pounding the Northeast with snow and threatens to hurl blizzard conditions toward almost 15 million people.
More than 6,000 flights have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday, and governors have issued states of emergency and travel bans.
Nearly 100,000 customers were without power in the mid-Atlantic and north-eastern United States on Tuesday as a late winter storm that promised to pummel the north-east with more than a foot of snow turned to sleet early.
The southern tier of New York state, near the Pennsylvania border, is getting up to 3 inches of snow per hour.
Parts of Massachusetts could get 24 inches of snow, along with powerful winds.
Dominion Power reported more than 50,000 customers in the dark in Virginia on Tuesday morning, with more than 40,000 of those outages in the Richmond area.
Maryland officials reported about 30,000 outages. Thousands more were reported in Delaware, New Jersey and around Philadelphia.
This increased the threat of icy conditions and freezing rain, meaning travel remains dangerous across the north-east.
Blizzard conditions were still anticipated further inland, however, with 18 to 24 inches of snow expected in large swaths of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
High winds were measured at the coast, with gusts between 50 and 55mph battering the eastern seaboard. And thundersnow, when snow instead of rain is part of a thunderstorm, was detected in New Jersey.
Meteorologists had predicted snowfall totals as high as 20in (50cm) in New York City from the storm’s start late on Monday through to Tuesday evening, but these predictions were moderated when Tuesday’s early morning snow turned out to instead be predominantly a wintry mix. Four to six inches of snow were now expected.
The weather service’s office near Philadelphia called the storm “life-threatening” and warned people to “shelter in place”. Coastal flooding was also predicted.
— Steve Petyerak (@StevePetyerak) March 14, 2017
At least 6,000 flights scheduled for Tuesday were cancelled and 650 flights scheduled for Wednesday have been cancelled. These numbers are expected to rise. Amtrak cancelled and modified services up and down the north-east corridor and motorists were urged to stay off the roads.
— ABC News (@ABC) March 14, 2017
In New York City, the above-ground portions of the subway system were being shut down from 4am on Tuesday. Connecticut’s governor, Dannel P Malloy, imposed a statewide travel ban beginning at 5am. The dismal forecast prompted early decisions to close schools on Tuesday in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and many places in between.
The New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel and help keep the roads clear. “If you must go out, do so for as limited time period as possible … but the best thing to do is stay in,” De Blasio said on Monday.
The storm comes a week after the region saw temperatures climb into the 60s as the first day of spring, 20 March, approaches. Last week, the 2016-2017 winter became the first on record to have three occurrences of measurable snowfall after a 60F day in New York City.
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) March 14, 2017
In Washington DC, where the National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled to start on Wednesday, snow accumulations of 6-8in were expected, leading the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to postpone her trip to Washington for her first face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump.
Winter is always ready to take a shot at you, so you have to stay prepared.