Snowstorm "Stella" is being described as “life-threatening” as it is poised to hit the US east coast, bringing blizzard conditions and a blanket of heavy snow.
Meteorologists were predicting snowfall totals as high as 20in (50cm) in New York City from the storm’s start late on Monday through to Tuesday evening.
The National Weather Service warned that blizzard conditions of wind gusts over 35mph (56kph) and low visibility would extend from the Philadelphia area to Maine.
The weather service’s office near Philadelphia called the storm “life-threatening” and warned people to “shelter in place.”
Coastal flooding was also predicted.
About 5,000 flights were cancelled as of late Monday afternoon, Amtrak cancelled and modified services up and down the Northeast Corridor and motorists were urged to stay off the roads.
In New York City, the above-ground portions of the subway system were being shut down from 4am on Tuesday.
Connecticut 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.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel and help keep the roads clear. “We’re preparing for a significant storm on Tuesday, and New Yorkers should also prepare for snow and dangerous road conditions,” de Blasio said.
The storm comes a week after the region saw temperatures climb into the 60s. Spring officially starts on 20 March.
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