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Winter storms batter US eastern seaboard

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Severe storms are wreaking havoc along the US eastern seaboard, causing coastal flooding and power outages and bringing travel services to a halt.

More than a million residences were without power in the Northeast and Midwest while rail operator Amtrak suspended its Northeast service.

Heavy rains and damaging winds also led to the cancellation of more than 2,600 US flights.

Officials told Boston’s coastal communities to be prepared to evacuate.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency on Friday afternoon in order to marshal resources and “appropriate preparedness, response, and recovery measures”, according to a statement.

Parts of the Massachusetts city were submerged in water on Friday after a flood surge came during an extreme high tide at about 11:00 local time (16:00 GMT).

Authorities warned that heavy gusts could lead to even higher flood levels and hurricane-force winds.

“The winds are going to keep on increasing and the seas are going to go higher and higher for the next three high tide cycles,” said Bill Simpson, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Gusts of up to 70mph (113km/h) have downed trees and power lines in the Washington, DC region.

Federal officials in Washington awoke on Friday to find that government offices had closed due to the high winds.

Nearby Dulles International Airport briefly evacuated a control tower due to the dangerous conditions.

A flight landing at the Washington-area airport endured so much turbulence that most passengers became sick while the pilots were also on the verge of throwing up, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

New York’s LaGuardia airport suspended all arrivals and departures and rail operator Amtrak temporarily halted service between New York, Boston and Washington.

Amtrak tweeted on Friday that its Northeast Corridor service was “temporarily suspended due to multiple weather related issues”.

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The company added that trains currently en route will continue on to the closest stop and remain there.

In Washington, President Donald Trump was forced to fly from Dulles International Airport rather than from Andrews Air Force base, where Air Force One usually departs, while travelling to the funeral of Reverend Billy Graham in North Carolina.

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