NEW YORK - Winter Storm Stella iStella is pounding the East Coast with its icy wrath Tuesday, dropping steady snow in the New York and Washington D.C. regions and wreaking havoc on travel throughout the Northeast.

Airline officials cancelled most flights in and out of New York and Boston, and Amtrak cut back service between D.C. and Boston. Winter storm watches and warnings were in effect from the mountains of North Carolina to northern Maine, a distance of more than 1,000 miles. But the National Weather Service early Tuesday cancelled a blizzard warning for the New York City metro area.

A nor’easter was forecast to rage up the East Coast through most of Tuesday, slamming some areas with wind gusts of 60 mph or more. The weather service early Tuesday said parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut could see as much as two feet of snow.

Its office near Philadelphia said the storm was “life-threatening” and warned residents to “shelter in place.”

All meeting at the United Nations were cancelled.  “The United Nations Headquarters complex will be closed Tuesday, 14 March 2017, due to inclement weather,” the United Nations said in a note to the press here.

In Washington, the U.S. House cancelled Tuesday votes and won’t reconvene until late Wednesday. Federal agencies on Tuesday were operating on a three-hour delay, the Office of Personnel Management said, with options for unscheduled leave or teleworking.

President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter: “Everyone along the east coast be safe and listen to local officials as a major winter storm approaches. @NWShttp://weather.gov .”

The conditions caused German Chancellor Angela Merkel to postpone a trip to Washington to meet President Trump. She will now arrive in the UDS capital on Friday.

The winter storm follows a spell of unusually mild weather in the north-eastern US, with last month being the second warmest February since record-keeping began in 1895.

President Trump said he had spoken to Homeland Security and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was ready to provide assistance where needed.

“Everybody in government is fully prepared and ready,” he said. “Let’s hope it’s not going to be as bad as some people are predicting. Usually it isn’t.”

In 2016 New York experienced the biggest snowstorm in the city’s history, with a record 27.3 inches falling on Central Park in 24 hours.

The blizzard brought parts of the north-eastern states to a standstill, and left 18 people dead.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy issued a statewide travel ban that began at 5 a.m. on Tuesday (2 pm PST) and ordered all non-essential first- and second-shift state employees to not report to work.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency at midnight on Tuesday ahead of the storm. In New York City, which could see up to 18 inches of snow, the Metropolitan Transport Authority suspended above-ground train services.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said NJ Transit has suspended all bus services because of the storm. Officials in New Jersey also closed state offices for all non-essential employees on Tuesday.

“During these threatening conditions, I urge all New Jerseyans to remain off the roads so our first responders and public safety officers can safely and efficiently handle emergency situations,” Christie said.

The National Weather Service warns that more than a foot of snow is likely to fall inland, accompanied by strong winds. The National Weather Service warns Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut will be hit with a “wall of snow” that will drop about 4 inches of snow an hour.

“A major winter storm is unfolding across interior portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. Winter storm warnings are in effect from eastern West Virginia to Maine, and blizzard warnings from eastern Pennsylvania to southwest Maine,” the NWS said in a statement. “Snowfall amounts in excess of a foot are likely inland along with strong and gusty winds. High winds and tidal flooding are going to be an issue for coastal areas north of the Outer Banks."