WASHINGTON — Heavy snow storms on the U.S. East Coast are a major reason for the cancellation of thousands of flights in the country on Monday, in the meantime causing severe power outage in several states and forcing the federal government in Washington, D.C. to close for the day.

The U.S. Capitol Building is seen after a snowstorm in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Jan. 3, 2022. (Photo by Aaron Schwartz/Xinhua)

More than 20 million people are under winter storm alerts on Monday, with snow totals in the nation’s capital mostly ranging from five to 10 inches. As the snow came to an end in the afternoon in the D.C.-Virginia-Maryland region, the highest total was recorded in Glendie in Virginia’s Stafford County with 13.4 inches, according to data from the National Weather Service.

The severe winter weather, coupled with the recent resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, led to thousands of delays and cancellations of flights. Total delays of flights within, into or out of the United States surpassed 6,000 in late afternoon on Monday, with total cancellations of this category topping 3,000, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

Air traffics were hardest hit at the Ronald Reagan National Airport in D.C. (DCA) and the Baltimore/Washington International Airport in Maryland (BWI). The DCA, where snow total reached 6.7 inches, canceled 358 departing flights and 330 incoming flights Monday, making up 86 percent of all flights originating from the airport for the day and 76 percent of all flights arriving at the airport, FlightAware’s data showed.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued ground stops earlier in the day for flights bound for the DCA and the BWI. Both restrictions were lifted in the afternoon.

The heavy snowfall also caused large-scale power outages across states on the East Coast, from Maryland in the north all the way down to Georgia in the South. Combined, Virginia and Maryland reported over half a million outages, according to data tracked by PowerOutage.US.

The governors of Maryland and New Jersey briefed their respective residents on the weather condition and emergency response, with Governor Larry Hogan urging “Marylanders in affected areas to stay off the roads,” and Governor Phil Murphy calling the storm “really the most significant” snow event in the southern part of New Jersey in almost four years.

A seven-year-old in Townsend, Tennessee, and five-year-old in DeKalb County were killed as a result of trees falling onto their homes amid the heavy snow.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, meanwhile, said on Twitter in the afternoon that the District’s cold weather emergency alert will remain effective until further notice. She told a press conference earlier in the day that all library sites will be closed for distribution of at-home COVID-19 tests for the remainder of the day, potentially further complicating the pandemic situation in which residents were already grappling with a surge in caseload.

The inclement weather also forced the federal government to close for the day. Instead of holding a scheduled vote on whether to confirm Gabriel Sanchez as a judge for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, California, the Senate convened only briefly on Monday — with only two Democratic senators present — and delayed the first vote of the year until Tuesday.