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More than a metre of snow falls on U.S., 17 killed

Digital writers

Saturday, January 23, 2016, 8:02 PM - A massive winter storm is blanketing much of the eastern United States with snow, paralyzing cities and grinding transportation to a halt.

About a metre of snow has fallen on parts of the mid-Atlantic states of the country, and at least 17 people have died due to the storm, most due to collisions on snowy highways.

At least 11 states have declared a state of emergency, and Washington, D.C., has declared a snow emergency. In all, some 85 million people are being affected by the massive storm, with around 33 million in blizzard warnings.

RELATED: The best social media pictures and video of this powerful storm

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, the heaviest storm totals have been at Glengary, West Virginia (101 cm), Philomont, Virginia (99 cm) and Redhouse, Maryland (97 cm), but more well-known metropolises have also been hard-hit.

In Washington, around 47 cm had fallen, a respectable distance away from the city's 1922 record of 71 cm. Some 33 cm fell at Philadelphia, while both of New York major airports were reporting around 52 cm, with the worst of the storm not over.

Weather Network Storm Hunters Mark Robinson and George Kourounis are in the U.S. covering this storm. Here's their view of the wicked waves and strong winds of the Jersey Shore:

"This is bad, and it's getting worse rapidly," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN, prior to a road travel ban being enacted at 2:30 p.m. in the city and Long Island.

Other cities have followed suit, with highway travel difficult, if not impossible, in many locations.

In West Virginia alone, police responded to almost 1,800 collisions and disabled vehicles by Friday evening, according to CNN. In Kentucky and Pennsylvania, traffic jams of more than 12 hours were reported, according to the BBC. 

In the skies above, more than 6,500 flights were cancelled between Friday and Saturday, including more than a hundred U.S. flights out of Toronto's Pearson Airport, according to data from Flightaware.

Around 200,000 outages have been reported by various power utilities as of late Saturday, including more than 150,000 in the Carolinas.

It's not just the weight of the snow, but the large system's strong winds, that have contributed to power outages. Wind gusts of 120 km/h -- just over the Category 1 hurricane threshold -- were recorded at Dewey Beach, Delaware, and Langley Air Force Base in Virginia with lesser, but still stiff gusts of more than 95 km/h recorded at many coastal spots.

Those strong winds are joining forces with high tides from this month's full moon to cause major storm surge in some coastal communities.

Coastal flooding in New Jersey forced about 50 people from their homes, according to CNN. A spokesman for Ocean City, New Jersey, told the Guardian that the high tide marker was around 2.4 m Saturday morning, not far from the 3.1 m threshold set during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Impact on Canada

The massive system will move out to sea later Saturday, moving close enough to Atlantic Canada to have some effect on the region.

Model guidance on the storm's effects has stabilized, such that forecasters expect it to bring some snow to coastal Nova Scotia and Newfoundland's Avalon and Burin peninsulas.

Up to 10 cm could fall in Nova Scotia Saturday night, with similar totals in Newfoundland. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for southern Nova Scotia.

"At this time the system is expected to remain just far enough offshore to keep amounts below warning criteria for these regions," the agency says. "However, this system would only have to deflect slightly northward to increase snow amounts significantly, especially along southernmost sections of the south shore where forecast snowfall amounts are currently expected to reach upwards of 10 centimeters."

WATCH BELOW: The snow couldn't cancel swim practice for THIS hardy swim team in West Virginia

SOURCES: CNN | BBC | The Guardian | CBS | National Weather Service | Flightaware

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