A blizzard pummeled the northeastern United States on Monday, dumping up to 29 inches of snow, disrupting air and rail travel and challenging motorists with blowing snow and icy roads at the end of the busy Christmas weekend.
Just as passengers trapped by freezing weather in Europe began returning home as flights resumed normal service on Christmas Day, it was the turn of US travellers to face relentless snow, dangerous winds and unforgiving cold.
New York’s three major airports, shut on Sunday night after at least 2,000 flights were cancelled, were due to reopen at 4 pm (2100 GMT).
Incoming and departing flights were suspended at New York’s John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, as well as Newark Liberty International Airport in neighbouring north New Jersey since Sunday, Port Authority spokesperson Sara Joren said.
Airlines scrambled to rebook passengers on thousands of cancelled flights but said they did not expect normal service to resume until tomorrow.
The inclement weather could not come at a worse time for millions of Americans who travel to see family or take holiday getaways during the Christmas week.
It was also compounding the misery for some flyers in Europe, where carriers including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic cancelled several US-bound flights on Sunday and were bracing passengers for further disruptions on Monday.
The US railway service Amtrak said it was halting service between New York and Boston, and in the process stranded thousands of travelers during one of the heaviest travel seasons of the year.
The weather service called it the biggest storm in the region since last February, when record snowfalls paralysed the mid-Atlantic states but largely spared New York City, and the first blizzard since February 12, 2006, when the 24-hour record for Central Park, 26.9 inches, was set.