A fast-moving snowstorm barrelled through the US mid-Atlantic, cancelling flights, snarling roadways, and shutting schools and government offices while winds kept the mid-section of the country in an icy grip.
The East Coast's first significant snowfall of the season was expected to dump up to 20.3 cm on northern Virginia, across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and into southern New England, Brian Korty, meteorologist with the National Weather Service said in a forecast.
By midday the storm had blown through Washington, DC, where federal government offices were shut for the day, the Office of Personnel Management said.
In neighbouring Delaware, Governor Jack Markell announced state offices were shut and urged residents to stay off dangerously slick roads.
Snowflakes falling on Times Square in New York City thrilled tourists, including Janet Major, 57, visiting from England.
"It's like 'Miracle on 34th Street.' It's added to the holiday atmosphere," said Major, referring to the classic Christmas movie.
Alberto Rodriguez, 45, an auto repair mechanic from Orlando, Florida, agreed.
"I'm so happy. In the four years I've been coming here I've never seen the snow. And this is my last day in the city," Rodriguez said.
The city declared a snow alert and readied 365 salt spreaders, 282 front-end snow loaders and 1,800 plows, said Belinda Mager, spokeswoman for the city Sanitation Department.
At airports around the country, more than 1,600 flights were cancelled, most of them in Newark, New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks air travel.
School districts in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, suburban Maryland, New Jersey and New York cancelled classes.
The new snowfall followed a swath of snow and sleet that swept through the nation over the weekend and Monday, dumping up to 10 inches or more on many areas.