A blizzard packing hurricane-force winds has hit the northeastern United States killing at least four people, and leaving about 700,000 customers without power.

The storm that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic dumped more than 90cm (3ft) of snow across the Northeast, the National Weather Service said.

Coastal blizzard and flood warnings were in effect as the storm moved slowly eastward out to sea.

The storm centred its fury on Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, with the most snowfall, 95cm (38 inches), in Milford, Connecticut.

Authorities ordered non-essential vehicles to stay off roads to allow snow plow crews to clear them.

The ban left normally busy arteries such as Interstate 93 in Massachusetts nearly deserted.

About 2,200 flights were cancelled, according to FlightAware, which tracks airline delays.

Boston's Logan International Airport and Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, were shut down.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told a Boston radio station he would re-evaluate a vehicle travel ban he introduced yesterday, but would lift it only "when it's safe to do so."

Aer Lingus cancelled its EI137 Dublin to Boston and EI136 Boston to Dublin flights.

New York flights are running as scheduled, but passengers are advised to check with the airline.

The storm dumped 73.2cm (29.3 inches) of snow on Portland, Maine, breaking a 1979 record. Winds gusted to 133kph at Cuttyhunk, New York, and brought down trees across the region.

The storm contributed to three deaths in Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy told a news conference.

An 80-year-old woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver while clearing her driveway, and a 40-year-old man collapsed while shoveling snow.

One man, 73, slipped outside his home and was found dead, Mr Malloy said.

In Poughkeepsie, New York, a man in his 70s was struck and killed on a snowy roadway, local media reported.

A 30-year-old motorist in Auburn, New Hampshire, also died when his car went off the road, but the man's health might have been a factor in the accident, state authorities said.

Police in New York's Suffolk County, some using snowmobiles, rescued hundreds of motorists stuck overnight on the Long Island Expressway, said police spokesman Rich Glanzer.

Some spent the night in their cars.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, lost power and shut down automatically late last night, but there was no threat to the public, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

A storm surge combined with a high tide led to isolated coastal flooding.

US Route 1A was closed in New Hampshire because of debris and rocks that washed ashore, police said.