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Snowstorm slams US eastern seaboard

A fierce blizzard has hit the United States, killing several and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. State leaders have urged their citizens to stay indoors at all costs.

A travel ban was in force in New York City on Saturday as

a deadly blizzard blasted the east coast

of the United States, burying it under heavy snow. At least eight people were killed in automobile accidents in three different states as the deluge swept from Arkansas to New England.

More than 200,000 people were without power as more than 16 inches (40 centimeters) covered both Washington and New York, levels much higher than expected.

"There's no reason to be out there," said Washington mayor Muriel Bowser to NBC News. "It will be driving snow and windy and we need to take heed."

According to city police chief Cathy Lanier, there was zero visibility on the roads, also called a whiteout, as she urged citizens to stay indoors.

Watch video 01:02

Snowed under in Washington

New York City shuts down

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo prohibited travel in and out of the country's largest city early in the afternoon, saying "the national weather service has increased their forecast for the amount of snowfall."

"Thirty inches would be one of the most serious amounts of snowfall that we have had in decades and to protect public safety, we're going to be closing down the roads," he added.

In neighboring New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, rushed away from a campaign stop in New Hampshire to hurry home and coordinate the emergency response. He said there were more than 90,000 power outages in the snow covered state.

"The snow is difficult and the visibility is no more than a quarter of a mile," he told a press conference. "For anybody out there that's at home right now thinking this might be a good time to go out in the northern part of the state, it is not."

If the snow continues as forecast, Washington will fly past a record set in 1922 by a storm that dropped 28 inches (71 cm) on the nation's capital. US Capitol Police announced they were lifting the ban on sledding ban near the city's national monuments, which remain closed.

es/bw (AP, AFP)

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