An arctic snap gripped most of Canada and a large swath of the northern United States, with unusually low temperatures recorded in both countries.

A record-breaking snowfall of more than 60 inches has hit the Pennsylvanian City of Erie with even more said to be on the way.

The city has declared a citywide emergency as a result of the storm.

New York, Northern Ohio and Northern Michigan are also heavily hit.

Forecasters say the extreme weather is caused by very cold air passing over the unfrozen great lakes.

Police in Pennsylvania warned motorists that “Roads are dangerous and impassable”, with a number of closures reported.

In Neighbouring Ohio, North Kingsville piled up 18.5 inches of snow in just 12 hours.

In Canada, extreme cold warnings were issued for scores of communities across the country, including the heavily populated provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Extreme cold warnings are issued “When very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia, according to the government agency.