NEW YORK — A storm packing blizzard conditions spun up the East Coast early Tuesday, pounding parts of coastal New Jersey northward through Maine with high winds and heavy snow.
While the storm failed to live up to predictions in some areas, eastern Long Island north through Massachusetts and Maine were expected to fare the worst, with 1 to 3 feet of snow, punishing hurricane-force winds and the possibility of some coastal flooding, according to the National Weather Service.
Bruce Sullivan of the National Weather Service said Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could get about 2 feet.
Some areas of Massachusetts received more than a foot of snow by early Tuesday; Plymouth had almost 16 inches, Shrewsbury almost 15, and Sandwich had 13 inches of snow.
In Maine and New Hampshire, a state of emergency has been declared, and government offices in both states are closed Tuesday.
Parts of Long Island are dealing with hazardous conditions, with snow falling 2 inches per hour. Islip had 14.7 inches of snow by early Tuesday. Blizzard warnings were lifted for New York City and New Jersey early Tuesday.
Sections of New York were forecast to see from 10 to 20 inches of snow, and a 60-mile stretch of the New York Thruway in the Hudson Valley remained closed. In Hartford, Connecticut, up to a foot of snow was expected, while Philadelphia and central New Jersey were spared the brunt of the storm and expected to get about 6 inches.
Gusty winds blew through the northeast, with sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph. The NWS said higher gusts were reported from New Jersey to near Boston, where the winds were clocked at 40 to 50 mph. The weather service says a wind gust of 78 mph was reported on Nantucket, and a 72 mph gust was reported in Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard.
The National Weather Service over the weekend had issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions.
On Monday, life abruptly stopped across the region as officials ordered workers to go home early, banned travel, closed bridges and tunnels, and assembled their biggest plowing crews.
"When you wake up in the morning, it is going to look like a blizzard," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, echoing the concern of many government leaders.
Light snow fell steadily early Tuesday in midtown Manhattan as a few municipal trucks rumbled down empty streets. The city had an almost eerie, post 9/11 feel to it: No airplanes in the sky. An unexpected quiet.
Brandon Bhajan, a security guard at a West 33rd Street building, said the situation early Tuesday was better than expected.
"We expected a lot more accumulation," Bhajan said. "I feel like the wind is more of the problem than the actual snowfall. It's rough to walk and it's very, very cold.
"I don't think they (city) overblew it. I think it's like the situation with Ebola ... if you over-cover people are ready and prepared rather than not giving it the attention it needs."
More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were canceled, and many of them may 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.
Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to go home and stay there, adding: "People have to make smart decisions from this point on."
Commuters like Sameer Navi, 27, of Long Island, were following the advice.
In New Jersey, plows and salt spreaders remained at work on the roads Monday night in Ocean County, one of the coastal areas that was expected to be among the hardest hit. There was a coating of snow on the roads but hardly any vehicles were traveling on them, as residents seemed content to stay indoors and monitor the storm in comfort.
Most businesses in the area had gone dark, including some convenience stores and gas stations.
Ben Shickel went grocery shopping in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and found shelves had been cleaned out.
"We're used to these big snowstorms in New England, but 2 to 3 feet all at once and 50 to 60 mph winds? That's a different story," he said.
On Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange said it would operate normally Tuesday.
Coastal residents braced for a powerful storm surge and the possibility of damaging flooding and beach erosion, particularly in New Jersey and on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Officials in New Jersey shore towns warned people to move their cars off the streets and away from the water.
Utility companies across the region put additional crews on standby to deal with anticipated power outages.
Associated Press writers Dave Collins and Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford, Connecticut; David Porter in Lyndhurst, New Jersey; Jim Fitzgerald in White Plains; Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, New Jersey; Deepti Hajela, Jonathan Lemire, Verena Dobnik and Mike Balsamo in New York; Albert Stumm in Philadelphia; and Marcy Gordon and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.