NEW YORK • Airlines cancelled thousands of flights in the United States north-east as a swirl of strong winds, snow, sleet and ice from the fourth major storm this month crippled the region.
The cold blast closed schools and triggered emergency declarations in New York City and New Jersey.
Airlines scrapped more than 4,400 flights within, to or from the United States, according to flight tracking website FlightAware, and more than 3,000 other US flights were delayed as the latest "nor'easter" dumped snow and ice on New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, Reuters reported.
The cancellations piled on to thousands more cancelled flights due to an unrelenting series of late-winter storms.
In Britain, also blasted by repeated waves of Arctic weather, the national weather agency said chances were increasing of a white Easter for parts of the country.
New York's LaGuardia Airport said on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon that airlines had cancelled all remaining flights for the rest of the day.
The nor'easter was on track to dump 30cm to 46cm of snow on areas from Philadelphia to New York City on Wednesday, Reuters quoted Weather Prediction Centre meteorologist Dan Petersen as saying.
4,400 Flights within, to or from the United States that were scrapped, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
3,000 Number of US flights delayed.
The storm also lashed points along the East Coast with winds exceeding 80kmh, according to the Weather Prediction Centre.
The wintry blast on the second day of spring was dubbed "four'easter" by some media outlets because it struck after three previous storms this month. Those nor'easters left nine people dead and more than two million homes and businesses without power, Reuters said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared local emergencies for New York City, where several inches of snow had fallen by Wednesday afternoon, and some other parts of the state.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy also declared a state of emergency.
Washington schools were also closed, and children in Philadelphia, parts of New Jersey and Pittsburgh also enjoyed a snow day. In Boston, students were told to trudge to school.
The storm is an odd occurrence in March - regionwide storms of this size typically develop only about once a year, the New York Times quoted National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini as saying.
But every few years, storms do tend to come in bunches, Mr Uccellini said. "The episodic nature of these storms is not weird," he said. "It's actually a characteristic of these storms."
While this was expected to be the last big snowfall of the season, it could still become the biggest spring snowstorm in New York City history, breaking the record of 25cm set on April 3, 1915.
In Britain, some media have been calling the predicted Easter freeze "Beast from the East 3", referring to a severe blast of Arctic weather sweeping in from Siberia.
"Easter on ice: Met Office UK weather forecast says 'greater chance' of snow and white Easter next week as 'Beast from the East 3' brings minus 9 deg C deep freeze", read the headline on Wednesday on The Sun's website.
However, it was unlikely that there will be a repeat of the transport chaos caused by Arctic conditions earlier this month, The Independent said.
Met Office spokesman Nicola Maxey said: "There is a great deal of uncertainty in the forecast for Easter weekend at the moment, but what we're looking at are temperatures slightly below average - about 3 or 4 degrees below average - and some rainfall coming through."
"We're not talking about anything like a fortnight ago or this weekend for southern areas," The Independent quoted Ms Maxey as saying. "It will be a dusting over the mountains and, more likely, the farther south you are the warmer it will be and the better weather you'll get."