BOSTON – A howling blizzard heaped snow on Boston but farther south it mostly spared New York City, which slowly blinked back to life Tuesday, canceling its travel ban and restarting its subway trains amid better-than-expected weather conditions.
Total accumulation was expected to reach or exceed 2 feet (about half a meter) in most of Massachusetts, potentially making it one of the top snowstorms of all time there. Coastal residents braced for a powerful storm surge and the possibility of damaging flooding and beach erosion, particularly on the Cape Cod peninsula.
As dawn broke, New York City had an almost eerie feel to it. No airplanes in the sky and no trains running underground made for an unexpected quiet. Light snow fell steadily early Tuesday in midtown Manhattan as a few municipal trucks rumbled down empty streets.
Forecasters originally warned the storm could be historic, bringing up to 3 feet (about a meter) of snow and punishing hurricane-force winds. But early Tuesday, they downgraded most of those numbers, saying Boston and the northeastern New England region would fare the worst, but even then not as bad as expected.
Maine and New Hampshire each declared a state of emergency, and government offices in both states were closed Tuesday. Cities in eastern Connecticut had accumulated more than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow.
On New York’s suburban Long Island, snow fell at 2 inches (5 centimeters) per hour. A 17-year-old boy sledding with friends was killed when he crashed into a light pole and died Monday night amid moderate to heavy snow and gusty winds.
“It feels like a hurricane with snow,” said Maureen Keller, who works at an oceanfront resort in Montauk.
Sections of New York state were forecast to see up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of snow.
As the storm system spun northward, conditions improved quickly. Travel bans were lifted by midmorning in New Jersey and New York. New York City buses, subways and trains were expected to restart later in the morning, and a return to a full schedule was expected Wednesday.
The National Weather Service over the weekend had issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile (400-kilometer) swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions.
But some areas in the Northeast escaped the brunt of the storm.
On Monday, some cities came to a near halt as officials ordered workers to go home early, banned travel, closed bridges and tunnels and assembled their biggest plowing crews.
New York’s La Guardia International Airport recorded 11 inches (28 centimeters) of snow, and Central Park was blanketed with almost 8 inches (20 centimeters).
More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were canceled, and many of them might not take off again until Wednesday. Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark.
On Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange said it would operate normally Tuesday.
Through midmorning, utility companies across the region reported minimal power outages.
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