The fourth significant snow storm in three weeks pounded the US Northeast Wednesday, canceling thousands of flights, closing schools and shutting federal offices on the second day of spring. Winter Storm Toby was expected to dump 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 centimeters) of snow on New York, the US financial capital and country's largest city, home to 8.5 million people, parts of New Jersey and Long Island before tapering off by midnight.
The National Weather Service warned against wind guests of 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour), with power outages and downed trees possible in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Around 4,000 New York Housing Authority residents were already without power, officials confirmed, while three to eight inches of the white stuff forecast in Washington shut schools and federal government offices in the world's most powerful political capital.
Congress, nevertheless, stayed open with lawmakers scrambling to agree on a federal spending bill to stave off a government shutdown.
The Federal Reserve also continued "as planned" a meeting widely expected to lead to the first of at least three interest rate hikes this year as the central bank works to head off inflation.
More than 4,220 flights within, into or out of the United States were cancelled, including a majority at Newark and LaGuardia, two of New York's three area airports, and half at John F. Kennedy International and Philadelphia's airport.
Forty percent of flights were canceled at Washington's Reagan National Airport, the FlightAware website added.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged employers to let staff go home early with the snow expected to quickly accumulate from 4:00 pm (2000 GMT) and reach "blizzard-like conditions" by falling at the rate of two to three inches an hour until 10:00 pm.
"The evening rush hour is going to be very, very difficult," he told a news conference. "If you don't need to be out this evening, don't go out."
"Flights are limited right now. I am certain that's going to get worse as the day goes by. I would suspect very few flights will be happening later in the day," he added.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency and schools closed in Philadelphia. New Jersey Transit, the commuter rail service, would discontinue buses at 3:00 pm and was implementing a severe weather rail schedule.
Boston, where winters are more severe than farther south, was expected to be worst hit at the end of the day, with flooding a risk in coastal areas.
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Updated Date: Mar 22, 2018 00:27:38 IST