Thousands of flights were canceled, rail service was suspended or delayed and major road were impassable as heavy snow, high winds and low visibility left parts of the Northeast at a near standstill early Monday.
More than 1,400 flights out of the New York City area's three major airports were canceled, and normal service was expected to resume until Tuesday.
John F. Kennedy International Airport, the top U.S. departure point for nonstop international flights, and LaGuardia remain closed Monday, as was New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport. Boston's Logan International Airport was open, but few flights were coming in or going out.
Amtrak canceled train service from New York to Maine after doing the same earlier for several trains in Virginia. The nation's largest commuter rail system, New York's Long Island Rail Road, also suspended service. Bus companies canceled routes up and down the East Coast, and drivers faced hazardous travel conditions—sometimes with close to zero visibility.
By 7 a.m. Monday, 20 inches covered Central Park, according to the National Weather Service. The deepest snow was recorded in Elizabeth, N.J., where 31 inches fell. By sunrise, the storm had largely moved on from New York City, the weather service said, with only an additional inch or two expected in Queens.
Well before the final flake had fallen, forecasters were reaching for superlatives, saying the storm was likely to be one of the biggest blows of the season, with wind gusts up to 55 miles an hour and snow two feet deep in spots.
Blizzard warnings — official forecasts of huge snowfalls with sustained winds of 35 miles an hour — were in effect from the Carolinas to New England.
North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey declared states of emergency, and New York, Philadelphia and Boston declared snow emergencies, imposing parking bans on major thoroughfares and urging residents to stay off the roads.
The weather service called it the biggest storm in the region since last February, when record snowfalls paralyzed the mid-Atlantic states but largely spared New York City, and the first blizzard since Feb. 12, 2006, when the 24-hour record for Central Park, 26.9 inches, was set.