A wintry storm dropped heavy rain and snow on the US Northeast, bringing winds and knocking out power in a region where hundreds of thousands were still in the dark after Superstorm Sandy.

The nor'easter storm meant fresh misery for thousands of people whose homes were destroyed by Sandy, which killed 79 people in the New York-New Jersey area alone.

Super storm Sandy smashed ashore on 29 October swallowing entire neighbourhoods with rising seawater and blowing homes from their foundations.

Some 13,000 homes and businesses from the Carolinas to New York lost power today.

This is on top of the 650,000 customers who still lacked electricity from one of the biggest and costliest storms ever to hit the US.

New York and New Jersey evacuated the most vulnerable coastal areas ahead of the nor'easter, whose rain, strong winds and snow were hitting a large portion of the region.

The low-pressure weather system was forecast to strengthen as it moved north on Wednesday with wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour(97 kph).

Ice pellets hit Long Island and the storm lifted wave heights to nearly 20 feet (6 metres) off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.

School districts in Connecticut sent students home early as a precaution, and the New York Stock Exchange removed the giant US flag from its facade to protect it from high winds.

Snowflakes or a mix of rain and snow fell on parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, causing airport delays.

Airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights, with Newark Airport facing the most cancellations.

American Airlines suspended operations in Philadelphia and at the major New York-area airports today.

It said it expected flights to resume tomorrow.

The AMR Corp unit said 365 flights were cancelled for today and tomorrow.

United Continental cancelled about 500 flights today and tomorrow because of the storm.

Delta Air Lines said it had about 200 cancellations at Northeast airports.

After effects of Super storm Sandy

Cold and snow was particularly bad news to residents who lost heat.

Many petrol stations remained shut around the region, complicating efforts for people to flee the new storm.

Of five petrol stations along a stretch of road near Cedarhurst just south of John F.Kennedy International Airport, none had petrol last night and one, a Shell station, received a delivery this morning.

The lines there were more than two hours long.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg closed parks and beaches and temporarily halted outdoor construction ahead of the storm.

On the devastated New Jersey shore, the town of Brick issued a mandatory evacuation order for waterfront neighbourhoods ahead of today's storm. Middletown also ordered evacuations.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was working with state and local authorities and was "ready to deploy additional resources if needed to respond to the nor'easter."

President Barack Obama won wide praise for the US government's response to Sandy, which may have helped him win re-election yesterday against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Mayor Bloomberg endorsed Obama for a second term after Sandy struck, citing his record on climate change.

Regardless of whether climate change was to blame for a rise in severe weather events, it should compel leaders to act on the issue, the mayor said.