Heavy snow and strong winds pounded states along the U.S. eastern seaboard Wednesday, forcing school closures, thousands of flight cancellations and government shutdowns.
The U.S. National Weather Service issued storm alerts Wednesday morning from North Carolina to Massachusetts, potentially affecting more than 68 million people.
The nor’easter, a storm blowing from the northeast off the Atlantic Ocean, was expected to continue to affect an area ranging from Virginia and Washington to Boston, Massachusetts, into Thursday.
More than 4,000 flights in the U.S. had been canceled by midday Wednesday, according to FlightAware.com.
The storm, which came one day after the arrival of Spring, caused closures of much of the federal government in the Washington area. The White House and the State Department canceled all public events for Wednesday. Congress was open for business, however, as it attempted to finalize a spending bill.
The weather service said up to 18 inches of snow could blanket northern New Jersey, southeastern New York state and southwestern Connecticut. Winds strong enough to cause damage were expected to affect eastern Massachusetts later Wednesday.
Widespread power outages are possible, particularly since parts of the power grid in the northeastern U.S. were damaged by a nor’easter earlier this month. Coastal flooding also is expected along segments of the eastern seaboard.