The first winter storm of the year has blanketed the Midwestern US in snow, wreaking havoc on municipal services and grounding flights.

The storm hampered fire fighters' efforts to extinguish a blaze in a three-storey Minneapolis business-district building on Wednesday.

Firefighters aimed their hoses at the flames and water gushed from windows and doorways, forming icicles on window frames and leaving the street slick and icy.

Illinois received six inches or more of snow and severe wind chills, prompting hundreds of flight cancellations in and out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Close to 400 lorries were out early on Wednesday, spreading salt on Chicago's streets.

Up 12 inches of snow has been forecast for some areas overnight on Thursday and into Friday, and temperatures could plummet to as low as just above zero.

Boston could see as much as 14 inches of snow and New York city, three to seven inches.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for Long Island from Thursday evening into Friday afternoon.

The worst of the storm is expected to hit later on Thursday with bitterly cold temperatures.

As much as six inches of snow has already fallen in the US this year, according to the National Weather Service.

Source: Al Jazeera