People along the East Coast of the US are preparing for a powerful storm that could dump 2ft or more of snow on some of the nation’s biggest cities.

The Nor’easter is forecast to impact New England and the Middle Atlantic region this weekend, bringing potential coastal flooding, power outages and travel disruption.

Airlines have already cancelled more than 5,000 flights scheduled to depart between Friday and Saturday, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. More than 8,500 flights have been delayed.

Blizzard warnings

Parts of 10 states have been placed under blizzard warnings.

The National Weather Service said the storm was developing as a low pressure system off the Southeast coast and would likely gain in intensity as it moves up the East Coast.

It issued a blizzard warning for the Boston metropolitan area and its nearly 4.9 million residents on Friday.

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“Expect whiteout conditions and nearly impossible travel at times. The strong to damaging winds will lead to scattered power outages. Also, significant coastal impacts are possible, including coastal flooding and beach erosion,” the weather service said.

Fast-falling snow and high winds

Forecasters said up to 2ft of snow could fall across the region, as fast as 5 inches per hour, along with gusts of 70mph early on Saturday.

Winter storm advisories and warnings have been put into effect from the Carolinas through Maine, where snow was forecast to start falling on Friday afternoon and expected to continue on Saturday.

Photos on social media showed shoppers crowding into grocery stores and stocking up on essentials ahead of the storm.