Snow Blankets Northeast, Strands Thousands of Travelers

A major winter storm in the Northeast has caused a travel nightmare for thousands.

Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights and Amtrak has canceled train service between New York and Boston as snow blankets the Northeast.

American, Delta and other airlines had already canceled hundreds of flights by Wednesday morning, and travel in and out of New York and Boston was very limited.

American expects to resume flights at New York City-area airports by Wednesday afternoon, but won't start flying again in Boston until Wednesday night.

The winter storm that shut down much of the South churned up the coast Wednesday, dumping snow across the Northeast and saving its most brutal punch for New England, where hundreds of cars spun out and schools and businesses shut down.

Armies of plows and salt spreaders hit streets across the region to stem chaos during Wednesday morning's commute. In Connecticut, where nearly 2 feet of snow had fallen and it was still coming down, state police responded to about 500 spinouts, fender-benders and stranded vehicles. Four minor injuries were reported.

"Troopers are going from one stranded vehicle to another," said Lt. J. Paul Vance, a department spokesman.

In New York, where officials took heavy criticism for their slow response to a Dec. 26 blizzard, the morning commute got off to a promising start as plows cleared streets that had been blocked for days by the last storm. Nearly 9 inches fell in Central Park, well short of 20 inches that last month's storm dumped on the city.

New England, though, appeared to be caught off guard by the ferocity of the latest storm. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, leading the state through what threatened to be his first disaster, ordered a double shift of state troopers onto highways.

Heavy snow and gusting winds closed hundreds of schools and businesses from Maine and New Hampshire southward.

"You can't see across the street. The wind and snow is blowing about 40 miles an hour sideways," said Artie Perrin, general manager at Kelly's Roast Beef in Revere, Mass., north of Boston.

Ridgefield, Conn., had 22 inches of snow by 8 a.m., and Danbury had 18 inches. In Bridgeport, Connecticut's largest city, a snow emergency was declared and only city and education board employees essential to storm operations were expected at work.

With offices closed across the state, many planned to make the most of the snow day.

"I think it's kind of cool we're getting this much snow. I haven't seen this much snow since I was little. We might go tobogganing later if the roads improve," said Debrah Allen, 21, of Milford, Conn.

In Maine, an inch of snow an hour meant snow plows had a hard time keeping up. About 70,000 households in Massachusetts lacked power, according to the state emergency management agency.

Every flight in and out of Boston's Logan Airport was delayed. New York's LaGuardia Airport canceled 675 flights, Kennedy Airport 300 and Newark Liberty 440. Philadelphia's airport reported about 20 dozen canceled outbound flights and 100 canceled arrivals, but spokeswoman Victoria Lupica expected things to be back in full swing by noon.

Officials cautioned motorists to stay off the road from the Carolinas to Maine. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick noted reports of spinouts and disoriented motorists heading the wrong way on highways.

Richard Delgaudio of Rocky Hill, Conn., took time out from his drive into work at Connecticut Light & Power to help push a stranded motorist who got stuck in a foot of snow in a Hartford intersection.

"It's tough to even see out there," he said. "The normal exit that I would normally take, I said ... 'I don't even know if this is the exit."'

The snow reduced travel on many New England highways to a single lane. Commuter rail service was suspended between New York City and New Haven, Conn., as well as on New York's Long Island.

The heavy snows thinned the ranks of morning commuters on the main rail line running north of Boston. Those who remained were hardy souls, some of whom carried their dress clothes in suit bags to avoid a messy appearance at work.

"I guess we're `essential personnel,"' Mike Lombardo, 29, of Andover, said as he headed into his job at a major financial services company.

Plows were out in force in New Jersey and in New York, which was getting hit by snow for the third time in less than three weeks, after the crippling Dec. 26 blizzard and a 2-inch dusting last week.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said crews would work even harder after criticism of how the city handled the blizzard, when hundreds of streets went unplowed, subway riders were stranded and medical calls unanswered because ambulances were unable to navigate snowy streets.

In Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, an area paralyzed by last month's storm, all major and side streets were plowed by Wednesday morning. A few cars skidded on the slush.

The city stood ready Wednesday with more than 300 salt spreaders, 1,700 plows, and 200 front-end loaders, backhoes and Bobcats. Sanitation workers were on 12-hour shifts.

The wintry weather was blamed for at least 14 deaths and many more injuries since Sunday.

In Ohio, one man was killed when a bus carrying members of a wrestling team from University of Mount Union collided with a snowplow. The State Highway Patrol said the 52-year-old bus passenger was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Snow and ice had already shut down much of the South for two days before the storm joined forces with another coming in from the Midwest and swept northward.

In the South, road crews lacked winter equipment, salt and sand to clear the roads, and millions of people just stayed home. Mail delivery was restricted, and many schools and other institutions closed.

Some schools remained closed Wednesday in western North Carolina as well as in Charlotte, the state's largest city. Workers reported progress clearing highways but warned many secondary roads remained dangerous because of ice. A winter weather advisory was in effect until noon in northwestern South Carolina as up to 9 inches of melted snow refroze on the roads.

Despite the inconvenience, Southerners confronted the aftermath with patience and a measure of wonder.

Lynn Marentette, a school psychologist who lives south of Charlotte, N.C., stayed home after classes were canceled. She spent Tuesday catching up with friends on Facebook and watching children sled down a nearby hill -- and ignored the stack of paperwork on her desk.

"It is a beautiful, beautiful day out there," she said. "I have some paperwork and some things I've really put off doing, but how often do you have a chance to enjoy the snow?"

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.