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People shovelling snow after a major snowstorm on Saturday in New York.AFPANDREW THEODORAKIS  

Blinding snow whipped up by powerful winds pummeled the eastern United States on Saturday, as one of the strongest winter storms in years triggered transport chaos and power outages across a region of some 70 million people.

Major cities like New York and Boston bore the brunt of the blizzard, which the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed intensified on Saturday into a “bomb cyclone” — characterized by the explosive power of rapid drops in atmospheric pressure.

The heaviest-hit parts of New York and Massachusetts received two feet of snow by early evening, with more than 95,000 homes in Massachusetts reported without power.

Cold weather stretched as far south as Florida, where the NWS warned of “scattered to isolated falling iguanas from trees” as plunging temperatures temporarily paralysed the large lizards.

Residents in towns and cities across the eastern seaboard were urged to avoid all unnecessary travel for a second night of whiteout conditions, with additional snowfall expected to be heaviest across New England.

In Long Island, officials said a woman had been found dead in her car by a snowplow operator.

Salt machines and snowplows crawled along the streets of New York City, where Central Park was covered in 7.5 inches of snow and regional train lines were partially shut down.

New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware declared emergencies for all or part of the States.

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