Huge snowstorm hits US northeast

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 14 (IANS) A powerful winter storm on Tuesday began its thrashing of the mid-Atlantic and the northeast with heavy snow, sleet and rain, prompting more than 7,800 flight cancellations, school closures and warnings from officials to stay off the roads.

About 18 million people were placed under a blizzard warning, CNN reported.

More than 7,800 US flights were cancelled and thousands of schools have closed. Winter storm warnings have been hoisted over a region stretching from Ohio and West Virginia into Maine.

Local and state authorities warned residents to be prepared and to avoid unnecessary travel as winds in some coastal areas could hit 80 kmph to 90 kmph, reducing visibility to zero.

A blizzard warning was in effect on Tuesday morning for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, upstate New York and the six New England states.

Weather models showed that the heaviest snow, perhaps more than two feet, could hit northeastern Pennsylvania, New York's Hudson Valley and parts of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Declaring a state of emergency, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said commuters should expect road closures, delays and cancellations.

"I strongly urge everyone to limit unnecessary travel on Tuesday and if you must drive, please plan ahead, be careful, and stay safe," he said in a statement.

Cuomo advised New Yorkers to prepare food supplies for seven to 10 days, and an emergency supply of bottled water.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also declared a state of emergency and ordered all state employees not involved in the response to stay at home.

President Donald Trump said he had spoken to Homeland Security and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was ready to provide assistance where needed.

"Everybody in government is fully prepared and ready," he said. "Let's hope it's not going to be as bad as some people are predicting. Usually it isn't."

In 2016, New York experienced the biggest snowstorm in the city's history, with a record 27.3 inches falling on Central Park in 24 hours.

The blizzard brought parts of the north-eastern states to a standstill, and left 18 people dead.