Massive Winter Storm Dumps More Than 2 Feet of Snow in Parts of Northeast

A major winter storm unleashed its fury on the Northeast, affecting more than 100 million people with significant snowfall, strong winds and bone-chilling temperatures that brought all methods of travel to a screeching halt.

Suburbs north of Boston were hit the hardest with more than 2 feet of snow overnight, while other parts of the state were slammed with as much as 18 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Airlines across the U.S. have canceled more than 1,500 flights, and there were more than 2,100 delays, according to FlightAware.com as of 4:30 a.m. ET. Newark Liberty International Airport has the most cancellations.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Cape Cod, coastal areas north and south of Boston and part of Maine as well as New York's Long Island.

Most major cities in the Northeast have school cancellations, including New York City, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Newark and New Haven.

Forecasters say temperatures are plummeting to well below freezing, and windchill readings could hit minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia. The temperatures will become more moderate by Sunday, but a new arctic plunge is expected to hit the Midwest and eventually the Northeast next week, bringing more snow and subzero temperatures.

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New York City was slammed with 6 inches of snow and 33 mph wind gusts recorded at John F. Kennedy International Airport. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency and ordered three major highways, stretching from Long Island to Albany, to close overnight during the height of the storm.

Boxford, Mass., north of Boston, has recorded more than 2 feet of snow, and the snow is not expected to stop until 10 a.m. Boston received 1 foot of snow as of 5 a.m., with wind gusts at 38 mph.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has closed state offices in an effort to keep people safe and off the roads. Patrick also urged private business owners to do the same. The governor said his main concern was coastal flooding, and National Guard members, and state police were on standby for any high-tide flooding.

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"We are prepared to respond to any major coastal flooding, but we're not aware of any evacuation orders yet beyond a voluntary evacuation, which has been called for in both Duxbury and Scituate," Patrick said.

Scituate resident Mike Kosman decided not to evacuate and instead stayed home to shovel as the temperature dipped to 2 degrees overnight with a windchill that made it feel like minus 19 degrees.

"It's light and fluffy ... but it's still 18 to 24 inches of light fluffy snow," Kosman said.

Jake Spangler drove a snowplow on Boston's North Shore overnight and said these were the worst conditions he had ever seen.

"Definitely the deepest that I've ever plowed. Right now you can't go over 20 miles per hour. I mean, it's so dangerous out here. ... It's basically a white out," he said.

The winter storm is also proving to be the first major test for New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, who was inaugurated Jan. 1.

De Blasio, then the city's public advocate, strongly criticized his predecessor's handling of a major blizzard that dropped 20 inches of snow on the city in 2010. Many outerborough residents were outraged after streets went unplowed for days.

"It would've been nice to have a nice calm fist day, but we have snow on our mind," de Blasio joked Thursday. "We are focused like a laser on protecting this city and getting everyone ready. We have all hands on deck."

It's quite the opposite for Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who is just days away from leaving office after 20 years as mayor.

"I guess Mother Nature wanted to give me one more gift -- a snowstorm," Menino said.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said the weather would be tough but manageable compared with past winter storms. About 3 inches of snow had fallen in Hartford County, and 3 inches were reported in East Hartford and Simsbury. Parts of New Hampshire had 5.5 inches, and areas of Rhode Island had more than 2.

"Thirty-five mile an hour winds -- bad but not 40. And 2 feet of extra tide -- bad but certainly something that we're easily capable of handling," Malloy said Thursday.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has also declared a state of emergency and ordered nonessential state workers to stay home. Blizzard-like conditions kept tow truck driver Paul Walker busy in northern New Jersey Thursday night.

This same storm already ripped through many states east of the Mississippi, where it dropped up to a foot of snow on Michigan and more than a foot in parts of Illinois. The nasty weather prompted the cancellation Thursday of hundreds of flights at both Chicago airports.

Nearly 18 inches of snow fell in some of Chicago's northern suburbs, and more than 12 inches of snow were recorded at Midway International Airport.

ABC News' Max Golembo, ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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