A MASSIVE winter snow storm is making its way towards the East Coast of America ready to dump up to 29 inches of snow causing more than $1BILLION in damage.
Blizzards are expected across the area as the National Weather Service described the storm as “potentially crippling” for a huge swathe of the country, with near-record snowfall in the Baltimore and Washington DC metro areas.
The National Weather Service predicted the nation’s capital, Washington DC could get as much as 29 inches of snow by the time the storm ends Sunday beating the famous January 1922 Knickerbocker blizzard.
The blizzard is set to be among the 10 worst to ever affect the eastern coast of the US and looks set to last until January 24.
Schools and government officers have been closed across the country with thousands of flights cancelled as well.
Around 76million are set to be affected by the storm which hit Washington between 1pm and 3pm local time on Friday.
A blizzard watch was issued for New York City and parts of Long Island and New Jersey starting on Saturday. Forecasters said up to 16 inches of snow would be expected.
The director of the National Weather Service Louis Uccellini said all the ingredients have come together to create blizzards with brutally high winds, dangerous inland flooding, white-out conditions and even the possibility of thunder snow, when lightning strikes through a snowstorm.
He said the storm could easily cause more than $1billion in damage and paralyse the East Coast.
Mr Uccellini said: “It does have the potential to be an extremely dangerous storm that can affect more than 50 million people.
“Washington looks like the bull’s-eye of the blizzard, and New York City is just inside the slow-moving storm’s sharp northern edge, which means it is likely to see heavy accumulations.”
Yesterday, thousands of flights were cancelled or delayed and residents stocked up on food and supplies as five states declared emergencies braced for the storm.
Millions of residents in the storm’s path in Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania scrambled to prepare for the storm, clearing shop shelves of bread, milk and bottled water, food and other supplies.
Blizzard warnings are in place from Arkansas to New York.
Federal employees in the Washington area were told their offices would close at noon today to allow them to get home safely before the snow begins piling up in the afternoon. Public schools have also been closed.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which includes the second-busiest US subway system, took the rare step of suspending operations from late on Friday through Sunday.
The Virginia National Guard said it planned to bring in up to 300 troops to assist in response operations.
Airlines in North Carolina and Washington have also cancelled thousands of Friday and Saturday flights.
The number of flights because of the blizzard is now more than 6,000.
Those cancelations center on Philadelphia, Washington, and New York, with airlines shutting down nearly all flights into those cities.
The flight chaos means that thousands of Britons will be stranded in the eastern US as the huge blizzard hits.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Obama will hunker down at the White House despite the President’s residence already blanketed in snow.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said the storm taking aim at Washington could rank among the biggest snowfalls on record, eclipsing the Snowmageddon storm of 2010 that dropped 17.8ins.
The largest snowstorm in recorded history in Washington was the 1922 Knickerbocker storm, which buried the city under 28ins.