A winter storm threatens to wreak havoc on the US East Coast

Forecasters warned that a flurry of snow and wintry conditions could wreak travel havoc in the northeastern US this weekend, with a storm warning issued for about 25 million people.

Several cities in the eastern United States, including New York, the nation's most populous city, saw record snow-free winter periods.

But the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a winter storm warning that "travel may be nearly impossible" in some places over the weekend, threatening chaos for travelers returning from winter vacations.

The affected area extends from the vicinity of Boston, inland through northeastern New England to Baltimore and Washington.

"This could become a real disaster for the city," said Boston official Jasha Franklin-Hodge.

"The weather will really kick in tomorrow night into Sunday and hopefully it will calm down in time to get it taken care of before Monday's commute and the start of school on Monday," Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said.

Forecasters warn ice could cause power outages and bring down trees as Winter Storm Ember approaches densely populated areas. /BGNES