A truck plows snow
A truck plows snow (left) as people make a snowman in Central Park on February 13, 2024 in New York City. Millions of people in the northeastern US were engulfed by snow on February 13 as a powerful winter storm battered the region causing flight cancellations and closing schools. Image Credit: AFP

Tappan: Millions of people in the northeastern United States were engulfed by snow on Tuesday as a powerful winter storm battered the region causing flight cancellations and closing schools.

Airlines cancelled more than 1,220 US flights, including 43 percent of all flights at New York's domestic LaGuardia airport and 28 per cent of service at New Jersey's Newark airport, along with almost one in five flights scrapped at New York's main air hub JFK, according to aviation tracker Flight Aware.

Schools were forced to close in New York city and transport operators scrambled to provide service after authorities called on the public to avoid driving amid treacherous conditions.

It was the first time in two years that enough snow had fallen to necessitate the use of plows in the country's most populous city, authorities said.

"Four to eight inches of snow and wind gusts up to 64 kilometres per hour expected. Avoid unnecessary travel. If you must travel, use mass transit," the city's emergency notification system said in an alert.

New Yorkers headed to the city's Central Park where hardy joggers and dog walkers rubbed shoulders with snow revellers building snowmen and playing in the powder.

More than 32 million people were under a winter storm warning, issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) as Storm Lorraine wrought havoc.

Many rural areas in the northeast were entirely cut off as snow plows attempted to clear roads even as heavy snow continued to cover driving surfaces.

Hampton Township in New Jersey was hammered with 13 inches of snow while Chester in upstate New York received over 11 inches, according to meteorologists.

"A Nor'easter will bring strong winds and heavy snowfall... which could damage trees, power lines, and disrupt travel. Coastal flooding is expected along portions of the East Coast," the NWS said in an update, using an informal name for the regional storm.

"The axis of heaviest snowfall is expected from eastern Pennsylvania, including the Lehigh Valley, through northern New Jersey, far southeast New York, and southern New England" including the New York metropolitan area.

"This heavy snow is expected to produce locally significant travel disruptions."