The first major winter storm of 2014 brought snow, stiff winds and frigid temperatures to much of the Northeast, with states of emergency being declared in New York and New Jersey and airlines canceling thousands of flights nationwide.
The National Weather Service said 21 inches of snow had fallen in Boxford, just north of Boston, by Thursday night, while other parts of the state had 17 or 18 inches. It said parts of upstate New York had 18 inches while New York City was expected to get about 8. Just over 3 inches of snow had fallen in Central Park early Friday.
Sections of interior southern New England and New York could get up to a foot of snow, with forecasts generally calling for 6 to 12 inches. New York City, likely to see 3 to 7 inches, issued a winter storm warning. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York State, and urged New Yorkers to avoid traveling and stay inside their homes until the worst of the storm has passed. while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency for the state of New Jersey Thursday evening.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced a parking ban and said schools would be closed Friday in Boston, where up to 14 inches of snow was expected.
"What a New Year's gift, to receive one last snowstorm as mayor," said Menino, whose successor takes office on Monday.
"The saying it's too cold to snow, won't apply Thursday night and early Friday. Temperatures for much of this storm will be in the single numbers and this will create a snow that is as light as you will ever see in this part of the world. You should be able to actually use a push broom to move the snow if you would like."
- David Epstein, a meteorologist in Maine
All of southern New England is under a winter storm warning until Friday morning. The region is expected to get hit with 8 to 12 inches of snow inland and about 10 to 14 inches of snow in areas like eastern Mass.
Vermont's two southernmost counties, which will see below-zero temperatures on Friday, are also expecting 6 to 12 inches of snow, The Burlington Free Press reported.
David Epstein, a meteorologist in Maine, summed up the weather conditions in The Portland Press Herald: "The saying it's too cold to snow, won't apply Thursday night and early Friday. Temperatures for much of this storm will be in the single numbers and this will create a snow that is as light as you will ever see in this part of the world. You should be able to actually use a push broom to move the snow if you would like."
The storm dropped a half-foot or more of snow in Illinois on Wednesday, prompting hundreds of flight cancellations into and out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, according to the aviation tracking website FlightAware.com.
Authorities said the weather may have been a factor in a fatal crash involving a pickup and a bus carrying casino patrons in Indiana. Police said the truck's driver was killed and 15 bus passengers were hurt in the collision on a snow-covered and slushy highway in Rolling Prairie.
Near blizzard conditions were forecast for areas along the Northeastern coast. The mayor of Bridgeport declared a state of emergency for Thursday, imposing special parking regulations so crews can plow.
In Hartford, Hal Guy, of nearby Glastonbury, went shopping for three shovels.
"We broke a couple in the last storm," he said. "We have four kids, so, three shovels, and we still have a little one back home."
Guy said three of his kids, girls ages 8, 10 and 12, have been out of school for two weeks for the holidays and hope to get a couple more days off with the snow.
Bruce Kelly, of East Hartford, was out looking for after-Christmas bargains. He said he wasn't going to worry on Wednesday about a storm due on Friday.
"I used to plow for the state, so I'm used to big storms," he said. "Now I'm retired, so I can just sit and watch it. So, I'm not concerned at all."
In Rhode Island, officials said crews would be prepared to plow, sand and salt roads or respond to any problems.
While the bulk of the snow was expected to hit southern New England and southern sections of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the prospect of additional snow was welcome news for many areas farther north.
The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in northern New Hampshire said the number of skiers during the first five days of Christmas vacation week increased 26 percent compared to last year.
"We seem to be in a sweet spot of snow," foundation executive director Thom Perkins said.
Over in Maine, where some communities are still recovering from a recent ice storm that cut power to more than 100,000 customers, people seemed prepared for more winter weather.
Kelly St. Denis, of Auburn, went skiing Wednesday at the Sunday River ski area with family and friends. She said it's been cold but the skiing has been good.
"Hey, it's winter in Maine," she said. "We go with it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report