Major Snow Storm Strikes US Northeast

A blizzard of potentially historic proportions that has already claimed lives in Canada is starting to pound the US Northeast.

At least three people were reported dead in Ontario, where an elderly woman collapsed while shovelling her driveway and two men were killed in a car accident.

Meanwhile in the US, up to three feet of snow is forecast hit the New York City to Boston corridor.

More than 118,000 homes and businesses have already lost electricity, mostly in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Some petrol stations have run out of fuel during the rush to prepare for the storm, and long lines of traffic have been reported at stations.

From New Jersey to Maine, shoppers have stocked up on food, water and power supplies.

Airlines have cancelled more than 4,300 flights.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick ordered all cars off the roads by 4pm local time on Friday, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg advised New Yorkers to make it a night in.

"Everybody's going to get plastered with snow," said Massachusetts-based National Weather Service meteorologist Alan Dunham.

New York City was expecting up to 14ins (35.5cm) of snow. Mr Bloomberg said ploughs and 250,000 tons of salt were being put on standby.

"We hope forecasts are exaggerating the amount of snow, but you never can tell," he said.

Blizzard warnings were posted for parts of New Jersey and New York's Long Island, as well as portions of the New England region, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

The warnings extended into New Hampshire and Maine.

In New England, it could prove to be among the worst 10 snowstorms ever, and perhaps even break Boston's record of 27.6 ins (70cm), set in 2003.

It comes just after the 35th anniversary of the blizzard of 1978, which paralysed New England with more than 2ft (60cm) of snow and hurricane-force winds.

The last major snowfall in southern New England was, unusually, well over a year ago - the Halloween storm of 2011.