New York City and its suburbs could get 8 to 14 inches of snow, with reduced visibility and wind gusts up to 35 mph, forecasters said. Long Island could get as much as 15 inches. In New England, forecasters were predicting up to a foot across most of Connecticut and the Boston area.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino late Tuesday declared a snow emergency, which bans parking ban on all major streets and cancels public schools.
By Tuesday evening, widespread flight cancelations moved from the South into the Northeast and Great Lakes ahead of the storm. More than 3,500 flights had been scrubbed for Tuesday and at least 1,000 more were expected to be canceled Wednesday from Atlanta to Chicago to Boston. American expected hundreds of cancellations, but one type of flight was sacrosanct — international ones leaving out of New York's Kennedy Airport.
In Atlanta, trucker Vernon Cook, 67, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., had been sitting idle on an interstate ramp in Atlanta for almost 24 hours. His semi stood in a long line of tractor trailers that couldn't move because of ice.
"I've been a trucker for 46 years and have seen nothing like this," said Cook, who was hauling a load of synthetic rubber from Beaumont, Texas, to Fayetteville, N.C. "I've always been stuck for a little short time, even in Chicago. Georgia DOT is not working, not on this road."
But elsewhere, people seemed accepting, and in some cases cheerful, about canceling plans for school, work and errands.
Atlanta city Councilman Kwanza Hall spent much of Monday sledding and shoveling alongside his neighbors. He said many of his constituents didn't mind staying in for part of the workweek.
"We're very fortunate this time because the storm didn't knock most of the power out," Hall said. "So you still have warmth, lights and television. You just can't go anywhere."
Passengers stranded at an Atlanta bus station were helped by good Samaritans, including a woman who made the 15-mile drive from Smyrna, Ga., to drop off sandwiches.
Valencia Dantzler of Chicago had been stuck at the station since Sunday and took matters into her own hands: She called the McDonald's corporate office and arranged for a downtown restaurant to bring food to the passengers.
"He brought like 150 double cheeseburgers and fries and salad. We ended up running out of food," she said.
Entrepreneurs in Atlanta didn't miss an opportunity: Someone set up a website hawking T-shirts and other souvenirs for "Hothlanta," a play on the city nickname "Hotlanta" and the frozen planet Hoth from the Star Wars movie "The Empire Strikes Back." One showed an enemy robot walker and a sign for Waffle House, the iconic Southern diner chain.
The effects of the storm were likely to linger because continued cold temperatures will slow any melting, perhaps until the weekend.
The storm will also take an economic toll. North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue said the state has already spent $26 million of the $30 million it set aside this fiscal year for storm-related cleanup expenses.
"If you can do anything for the state, could you pray that we get warm weather for the rest of the winter?" she said. "These trucks and these workers all come with a cost."
Associated Press writers Dorie Turner, Don Schanche and Errin Haines in Atlanta; Chris Hawley in New York City; Bill Poovey in Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Gary D. Robertson in Raleigh contributed to this report.
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