A warning by the National Weather Service discouraged any travel by Massachusetts residents, saying: “If you leave the safety of being indoors, you are putting your life at risk.”

Boston’s Logan International Airport and the airport in Providence, Rhode Island, were closed, while thousands of flights in and out of airports in northeast and midwest US states were delayed or cancelled.

Further north, a large section of Toronto, Canada’s most populous city, was without power for several hours after frigid temperatures caused a water main to burst.

“This is likely to be a record-setting snowstorm in Boston when comparing against data dating back to 1892,” the National Weather Service said.

“A few locations will likely approach or even exceed amounts (of snow) received during the 1978 blizzard.”

A repeat of the wild weather that led to 17 deaths in the US in February 1978, has authorities taking every precaution to ensure lives are not lost.

In anticipation of between 71 and 96 centimetres of snow being dumped over Massachusetts in the next 24 hours, the state’s governor declared a state of emergency.

More than 1,000 flights arriving and departing from New York and Boston, and 700 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, were cancelled.

The mayhem at US airports extended as far as Philadelphia, New Jersey, Baltimore and Washington were some disruptions caused cancellations.

On the roads, authorities have urged people to avoid travelling as high winds and snow were causing whiteout conditions from New York to Maine.

Snow ploughs and salt trucks are working overtime to keep major thoroughfares open, while residents have been asked to shift parked cars to help clear the way.

Officials in Philadelphia have advised that people with elderly relatives, neighbours or friends check in on them to make sure they have enough heat and food to see out the storm.

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