A final hit from a seemingly endless winter storm that affected most of the US over the long Thanksgiving weekend was bearing down on the east on Monday, dumping heavy snow, shuttering schools and stymying travel.

The storm dropped one round of snow on parts of the region late on Sunday and could bring 10in to 20in total by Tuesday morning from Pennsylvania to Maine, forecasters said. Heavy snow was also expected in the Appalachian mountains down to Tennessee and North Carolina.

“It’s moving very slowly, so the snow is just going to continue through the day,” National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Jennifer Vogt said.

Since Sunday, the storm has already dropped 20in of snow in East Glenville, New York, 15 miles north-west of Albany, the highest snow total in the north-east so far.

The storm has pummelled the US for days, dumping heavy snow from California to the midwest and inundating other areas with rain.

The snow-covered streets in Lowell, Massachusetts on Sunday.

The snow-covered streets in Lowell, Massachusetts, on Sunday. Photograph: Cj Gunther/EPA

Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for seven counties in eastern New York and assigned 300 national guard members to assist with snow removal. State police had responded to more than 740 storm-related crashes.

“We’re tough, we’ve seen it all, we can handle it all,” Cuomo said at a briefing before urging people to stay off the roads. He told non-essential state employees to stay home. But some workers had no choice but to trudge through knee-high snow and brush off their cars before heading out on the slushy roads.

Hundreds of schools were closed throughout the region, with more snow on the way.

“It’s going to be a long, difficult storm,” New Hampshire’s governor, Chris Sununu, said.

In areas not already bludgeoned by the first wave, schools closed pre-emptively as rain was expected to turn into snow in the region’s first significant storm of the season, a nor’easter so named because the winds typically come from the north-east.

At least four counties closed schools on Monday in West Virginia, where 2in to a foot of snow was forecast. Closer to the heavily populated, coastal Interstate 95 corridor, a wintry mix was more likely.

New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy, said at a news conference the worst was still ahead in the state. He closed state government for non-essential workers at noon.

Only 3in of snow was forecast for New York City, where schools were expected to remain open, and 5in for Philadelphia. Up to 9in, though, was possible in Boston by Tuesday night.

More than 450 flights into or out of the US were canceled, with more than 2,300 delays, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware. Airports in the New York and Boston areas accounted for many of them. There were 950 cancelations and 8,800 delays on Sunday.

Neighbors work together in an effort to clear out as much snow as possible from East 8th Street Sunday in Duluth, Minnesota.

Neighbors work together in an effort to clear out as much snow as possible from East 8th Street on Sunday in Duluth, Minnesota. Photograph: Alex Kormann/AP

The storm also caused major traffic disruptions. Tractor-trailers were banned or lower speed limits put in place on stretches of highway in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. New York also posted lower speed limits on some highways.

Many buses from New York City to Pennsylvania and upstate destinations such as Ithaca and Binghamton were canceled.

Dozens of school districts in upstate New York were closed Monday, along with several State University of New York campuses and other colleges. Many schools in southern Maine were also closed.

A commuter ferry on its way to Boston, where it was rainy and windy, hit a wave and listed heavily, sending some passengers to the floor. No injuries were reported.

The trouble began in the east on Sunday as the storm moved out of the midwest after days of pummelling parts of the US. Duluth, Minnesota, is still cleaning up more than 21in of snow that dropped over the weekend. Major highways reopened in Wyoming and Colorado after blizzard conditions and drifting snow blocked them.

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