Northeast US shuts down for major snowstorm

NEW YORK - A major snowstorm headed towards the northeast U.S. Monday, bringing flight cancellations, school closings and a possibility of 50 million people waking up to three feet of snow Tuesday.

"As the storm moves up the coast, it is expected to bring snowfall of 1-3 feet or more in many parts of the northeast through Tuesday evening, including New York City and Boston," the National Weather Service said.

New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island declared states of emergency, with New York City and Boston banning all forms of road travel.

"We cannot underestimate this storm," New York City Mayor de Blasio said. "It will pack a punch."

New York closed all its subway and bus services as of 11 p.m. local time (GMT0400), and announced schools would be closed Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said this was the first time a winter storm caused a total shutdown, adding that the system would be suspended for as long as the blizzard lasts.

The New Jersey Transit also shut down service completely as of 10 p.m. Monday.

"It's dangerous out there now. It's only going to become more dangerous,'' said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The National Weather Service recorded 4.5 inches of snow in Central Park, the largest public park in Manhattan, by 9 p.m.

As of 11 p.m., as many as 2,849 flights had been canceled across the U.S. scheduled for Monday and another 4,342 on Tuesday, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.

"Snow and strong winds are expected to persist through the day on Tuesday before slowly tapering off from south to north Tuesday night into Wednesday morning," the weather service added.

The heaviest snowfall is forecast to occur in the early hours of Tuesday, with 15 inches expected between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency