Heavy snowstorm bashes US east coast

A massive winter storm pounded the US east coast, grounding flights, shuttering vaccination sites and bringing New York City to a standstill.

Parts of Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania received snowfall up to 30 inches.

New York City and New Jersey have both declared a state of emergency.

The US National Weather Service said the storm will move up to New England, before tapering off on Tuesday.

Wind gusts of up to 50mph are also forecast for several days creating a blinding, blowing snow storm.

The storm has wrought havoc on local travel. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an order restricting non-essential travel and closing public schools on Tuesday.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York City as well as 44 other counties.

“This is a dangerous situation,” he said in a press conference on Monday. “A life-threatening-situation. Expect closures. It’s going to get very bad very quickly.”

In New Jersey, Governor Philip Murphy suspended the state’s bus and rail operations on Monday. His emergency order allows authorities to shut roads and evacuate homes.

More than 1,600 flights have been cancelled at major airports in the storm’s path, including Newark Liberty International Airport, John F Kennedy Airport, and Philadelphia International Airport. At New York’s La Guardia Airport, all flights were suspended as of Monday morning.

The storm has also halted vaccine distribution in Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, parts of Washington, DC and the New York area.

In New York City vaccinations will be cancelled through to Tuesday, as Mayor de Blasio has said it is “not safe” for older residents to go outside in the blizzard conditions.

“We’re in a local state of emergency,” Mr de Blasio said at a news conference. “I’m fearful that this tough situation we have now could get worse.”

Snow hit the west coast last week, with some parts of California experiencing more than 6 feet of snowfall.

In Washington DC, many have enjoyed the snow in front of the capital’s iconic landmarks. After a day of snow on Sunday, the winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service has been extended until Tuesday at midnight in the DC area. Freezing rain and sleet showers are expected through the day.

President Joe Biden met advisers to discuss “a range of issues, including the approaching winter storm”, a White House official said.