Blizzards bear down on US east coast

The city of Boston is in the eye of the third "nor'easter" snow storm in two weeks

Driving snow has enveloped the US north east in the region's third winter storm in two weeks, closing schools, cancelling flights and knocking out power to about 140,000 homes and businesses.

The nor'easter was forecast to drop up to 51cm of snow. It followed two storms that rumbled up the East Coast this month, killing at least nine people and knocking out power to about 2.4 million homes and businesses at their peak.

The storm stretched from New York state to Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine and forecasters warned of blizzard conditions, where high winds make travel dangerous, from coastal Massachusetts through Maine.

About 140,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey lost power as the storm downed trees and power lines.

Schools in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, were shut on Tuesday, Maine's state legislature cancelled its session, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy closed all government offices and the Amtrak passenger rail line halted service between Boston and New York.

More than 1,500 US flights were cancelled, according to tracking service FlightAware. The hardest-hit airport was Boston's Logan airport, where about four out of five flights were called off.

Nor'easters are storms that typically bring strong winds from the northeast, and they tend to occur most often and most violently between September and April along the East Coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.

This storm's heavy snow could down trees weakened by the last two storms and bring a fresh wave of power outages, officials warned.

Lower tides meant the storm would probably not bring a repeat of the flooding that sent icy water pouring into the streets of Boston during a storm early this month, forecasters and officials said.