Winter Storm Stella made landfall on the northeastern United States on Tuesday, prompting flight cancellations and school closures.
The National Weather Service called the storm "life threatening" and issued "blizzard warnings from eastern West Virginia to Maine," an area that includes New York City.
Stella, the most powerful winter storm of the season, was forecast to dump up to 60 centimetres of snow in New York and whip the area combined with winds of up to 95 kilometres per hour, causing treacherous conditions.
More than 6,800 flights were cancelled in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia, tracking service FlightAware said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers saying "given the frigid temperature, the huge amount of snow in a short period of time and the wind, stay off the streets for your own good, for your own safety.
"If you must go out do, so for as limited a time period as possible. If you need to travel use mass transit if possible."