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.
Cuomo ordered three major highways in his state, stretching from Long Island to Albany, closed overnight. The Thruway between Albany and the Bronx reopened for passenger vehicles at 5 a.m. Friday and was scheduled to reopen to commercial vehicles at 8 a.m. The Long Island Expressway and Interstate 84 between the Pennsylvania and Connecticut borders were scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m.
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."
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."
As the storm approached, a worker at a suburban Philadelphia salt storage facility was killed when a 100-foot-tall pile of road salt fell and crushed him. Falls Township police said the man was trapped while operating a backhoe. There was no word on what may have caused the accident.
Douglass Bibule shopped for rock salt and other supplies at a home improvement store in Watertown, N.Y.
"Well, there will be some shoveling that I will have to do and some sanding," he said. "I've got to go home and do some stretching exercises to make sure I don't hurt myself while doing that, and do a little shopping to make sure that we have all the supplies that we need. We need food because we have three older children at home."
Across the region, state and local police were busy responding to accidents and reports of stranded vehicles.
Amtrak planned to run trains on all of its Northeast lines on Friday but operate on a modified schedule, spokeswoman Christina Leeds said. Metro-North Railroad, which runs trains between New York City and suburban Connecticut, Long Island and New York's Hudson Valley, was operating on a Saturday schedule, meaning about 60 percent of its typical weekday trains were running.
The snowstorm worked its way east from the Midwest, where it dropped up to a foot of snow on Michigan and more than a foot in parts of Illinois, prompting the cancellation Thursday of hundreds of flights at both Chicago airports.
Nearly 17 inches of snow fell in some of Chicago's northern suburbs, and more than 12 inches of snow was recorded at Midway International Airport.
The Associated Press contributed to this report