Washington paralysed as massive winter storm hits America

Life in the American capital was virtually paralysed Thursday as a massive winter storm moving north walloped the Washington region after knocking down power in more than 770,000 homes and businesses in 14 states.

All federal offices in Washington as also schools and colleges were closed as some parts of the city got up to 11 inches of snow. People were advised to stay at home and out of trouble.

All runways at Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport were closed Thursday and over 5,000 of flights cancelled across America as the storm that has been blamed for at least 11 deaths continued to pound the region.

More than 100 million Americans in more than 20 states, including Louisiana and South Carolina, governed by Indian-American governors, Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley respectively have been affected by the storm.

President Barack Obama declared an emergency for all counties in South Carolina at the request of Haley as some forecasters predicted "potentially catastrophic" conditions in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas.

Obama issued a similar declaration for 91 counties in Georgia Tuesday. The declaration authorises the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support the states in their efforts to respond to the storm.

The vast majority of the customers who have lost power are in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

New Yorkers were experiencing what likely will be 15 inches of snow, while Philadelphia was expected to get 11 inches, CNN reported.

Boston was in the bull's-eye too, with up to 8 inches expected there by the end of Thursday. Gusts of wind there will top 65 kmph.

Meanwhile, in the South, states sprang into cleanup mode as power outages mounted and hundreds of thousands of customers shivered through a cold, dark night.

Amtrak, the US rail service has suspended some service in the Northeast, South and Mid-Atlantic regions again for Thursday.

As the powerful storm system pushed up the Eastern Seaboard, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told state agencies to prepare "for an impending nor'easter" and asked residents to avoid unnecessary travel.

New Jersey Governor  Chris Christie also advised people "to stay inside and stay warm and not worry about travelling around the roads too much."

National Guard troops were stationed along major inter state roads in South Carolina, ready to respond to wrecks on dangerous snow-covered roads. 

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