US snowstorm: North-eastern states brace for blizzards

Image copyright AFP Image caption New York city is already experiencing freezing conditions

The north-eastern US states of New York and New Jersey have declared states of emergency as a huge winter storm sweeps in, threatening blizzard conditions.

The US National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Schools are closed and thousands of flights have been cancelled.

The conditions caused German Chancellor Angela Merkel to postpone a trip to Washington to meet President Trump.

With winds of up to 60mph (100km/h), Winter Storm Stella is likely to cause severe disruption for commuters across many parts of the north-east on Wednesday morning, forecasters say.

House in New York state encased in ice

A 24-hour blizzard warning was issued by the US National Weather Service from midnight (04:00 GMT Tuesday) for New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Storm warnings were also posted from southern Maine to Virginia.

"During its height we could see snowfall rates of 1-3 inches (2.5-7.6cm), even up to four inches per hour," said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist based in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Image copyright AP Image caption Snowploughs are on standby in Brooklyn, New York

More than 6,500 flights have been cancelled, tracking service FlightAware reported, with airports in New York, Washington, Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia worst hit.

Schools will be closed on Tuesday in New York, Providence, Rhode Island and in some towns across Massachusetts and Connecticut.

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.

Image copyright AP Image caption Commuters in New Jersey are warned to expect the worst

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.

Mrs Merkel's visit was planned for Tuesday and has been rescheduled for Friday.

The impending storm also forced Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny to cut short a visit to Boston and head to Washington a day early by train.

The winter storm follows a spell of unusually mild weather in the north-eastern US, with last month being the second warmest February since record-keeping began in 1895.


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