Image copyright AFP Image caption Thousands of utility workers are still on the job in New York
The east coast of the US is being battered by “one of the strongest nor’easters in nearly 50 years” after coming ashore in Massachusetts overnight, according to the National Weather Service.
Thousands have lost power as more than 80mph gusts of wind and heavy rain hit the coast.
Many roads remain closed, transport has been disrupted and some schools have closed.
Schools in New York City and Washington DC are closed.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker warned people to remain indoors as the storm moved across the state.
“This is a storm we have never seen before. It’s bringing heavy wind, heavy rain, coastal flooding, power outages and even lightning,” he said.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Atlantic coast towns were rained on by the nor’easter
Coastal flooding was a serious concern and the National Weather Service said ocean waters were unusually high.
New York and Philadelphia warned that minor coastal flooding was expected and residents were advised to stay away from low-lying areas.
More than 2,500 buildings were left without power early on Saturday, about half of which were in New York.
Plans to run a casino resort to build a casino and hotel to be located in upstate New York were put on hold due to the destructive winds.
Image copyright Washington, DC Image caption Thousands of people woke up to the rain and wind from the nor’easter on the East Coast
“It is a sobering reminder of the many challenges we face with climate change,” Mr Baker said, adding that winter storms were starting earlier and lasting longer than they used to.
There are serious concerns about powerful waves reaching three or four metres in high tide later on Saturday.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all public schools and some preschools to be closed on Saturday. He also urged parents not to go to playgrounds to look for lost children.
Washington DC under threat of severe flooding
Image copyright AFP Image caption The storm dumped heavy rain in the mid-Atlantic, which could trigger widespread flooding
Around 80mph gusts were recorded at Barnstable, while Worcester saw winds of 86mph, according to the National Weather Service.
A state of emergency has been declared for Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC.
In the District of Columbia, both the office of mayor Muriel Bowser and the city council have asked the National Park Service to close hundreds of parks due to the power outages caused by the storm.
Airmen are being sent from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina to help Washington authorities deal with the flooding.
Image copyright AFP Image caption The storm has also caused power outages and some flooding in the Washington area
Image copyright AFP Image caption Large sections of the Atlantic coast are under a high wind warning, affecting the area in Massachusetts
Coastal residents and tourists remain in the dark, but many are now feeling the full force of the storm as high winds and heavy rains sweep through the region.
New York’s Central Park reported winds of 73mph on Saturday morning.
With its 1.2 million trees, the city depends heavily on power which it is unlikely to get back on line until Sunday or Monday, the mayor’s office said.
A meteorologist with the National Weather Service has warned of dangerous coastal flooding over the weekend.
Image copyright REUTERS Image caption A large section of the East Coast is under a high wind warning, affecting areas in Massachusetts
High tide is expected at 17:00 on Saturday morning, according to the website Weather Channel.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy warned people to stay indoors.
“The winds are going to pick up and we will see scattered power outages,” he said.
Meanwhile, municipal and state governments in New York state say they will distribute free food, water and other emergency supplies.
Image copyright Washington, DC Image caption D.C city officials have ordered a number of attractions including the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian to close
There is now a second Atlantic storm – named Erika – that threatens the central Caribbean, a meteorologist says.