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First snow in Florida in 29 years

Icicles hang from a sign in Hilliard, Florida. (AP)

Miami: It's called snow, something residents of North Florida had not seen in almost three decades until today, and it is part of a deep-freeze striking the entire US East Coast.

The US National Weather Service warned that a major winter storm would bring heavy snow and ice, from Florida in the southeast up to New England and the Northeast on Wednesday and Thursday.

New York City was under a winter storm watch, with 8-15cm of snow expected from Wednesday night to Thursday.

Tallahassee, Florida's capital in the far north of the "Sunshine State", awoke on Wednesday to a dusting of 0.1 inches of snow, the first significant measurement since 1989, according to the Weather Channel.

Floridians, more accustomed to hurricanes than this odd white substance, rushed to publish on social media their photos of snow covering their warm-weather flip-flop footwear and outdoor swimming pools.

#snowmageddon, they called it on Twitter.

The storm has already led to the closure of roads in northern Florida and southeastern Georgia, where governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in the coastal area.

Florida's governor Rick Scott urged people in the northern part of his state "to prepare for extreme cold weather conditions, including potential snow, sleet or ice accumulations".

Forecasters said the night-time temperature would fall below freezing in Tallahassee this week.

The National Weather Service said the rapidly deepening area of low pressure off Florida's east coast will move northeastwards bringing snow to the southern mid-Atlantic coast and then to New England as it moves towards the Canadian Maritimes by Friday.

"The potential exists for dangerous travel, scattered power outages, tidal flooding, and very cold wind chills," the Weather Service said on its website.

At least nine people have died in the record-low temperatures that have gripped much of the US for the past few days, officials said. Police in Roseville, Michigan, on Wednesday said a 96-year-old woman was found lying dead in a playground. AFP

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