Some Aer Lingus flights to and from New York and Boston have been cancelled after a powerful storm hit the US northeast.

Further disruption is anticipated tomorrow when the storm is expected to peak.

United Airlines and Delta Airlines have also cancelled some flights between US east coast destinations and Dublin.

All intending passengers are advised to check the Aer Lingus website for details before travelling to the airport.

Aer Lingus is to monitor the track of the storm and will update its website with schedule changes as they develop.

The blizzard slammed into the northeastern coast this evening, snarling traffic and prompting five governors to declare states of emergency in the face of a fearsome snowstorm.

The storm caused a massive traffic pile-up in southern Maine.

Organisers of the US sledding championship in that state postponed a race scheduled for Saturday, fearing too much snow for the competition.

The blizzard also left about 10,000 along the East Coast without power. Almost 3,500 flights were cancelled and officials in Massachusetts and Connecticut closed roads.

Forecasters warned about 60cm of snow would blanket most of the Boston area with some spots getting as much as 76cm. The city's record snowfall, 70.1 cm, came in 2003.

"We're seeing heavier snow overspread the region from south to north," said Lance Franck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts, outside Boston. "As the snow picks up in intensity, we're expecting it to fall at a rate of upwards of two to three inches per hour."

As of late Friday evening Irish time, officials warned that the storm was just ramping up to full strength, and that heavy snow and high winds would continue through midday on Saturday.

The governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine declared states of emergency and issued bans on driving by early Friday afternoon.

Authorities ordered nonessential government workers to stay home, urged private employers to do the same, told people to prepare for power outages and encouraged them to check on elderly or disabled neighbours.

People appeared to take the warnings seriously. Traffic on streets and public transportation services was significantly lighter than usual on Friday.

"This is a very large and powerful storm, however we are encouraged by the numbers of people who stayed home today," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told reporters.

Even so, the storm caused a few accidents, including a 19-vehicle pile-up outside Portland, Maine, that sent one person to the hospital.

Forecasters expected gusts up to 80kmph as the evening wore on.