Heavy snowfall and bitter winds rage on the east coast

A near-hurricane-force storm lashed the northeast on Saturday, dumping heavy snowfall, causing coastal flooding and threatening widespread power outages, while forecasters warned conditions would worsen and then bitter cold would follow.

The Nor’easter devastated portions of 10 states and some major population centers, including Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. By midday, more than 18 inches of snow had fallen on parts of the New Jersey coast and eastern Long Island.

The areas closest to the Atlantic coast bore the brunt. Boston, in the crosshairs of the Northeast, could get more than 2 feet of snow. Wind gusts of 70 mph or more have been reported in several places in Massachusetts, including Nantucket Island and Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod.

Most flights to and from airports serving New York, Boston and Philadelphia were canceled on Saturday, according to FlightAware. More than 4,500 flights have been canceled across the United States. Amtrak canceled all of its Acela bullet trains between Boston and Washington and canceled or restricted other services.

Across the region, residents crouched to avoid whiteout conditions and stinging snow thrown by fierce winds. Shops are closed or open late.

In a Boston suburb, a boxed-up Nicky Brown, 34, stood outside the door of Gordon’s liquor store in Waltham, waiting for it to open.

“My boyfriend drives a plough, and I’ve had a lot of cleaning to do at home, and I want to have a drink while I’m doing it,” she said of calling a store to see if it was open. “It’s a good day to stay indoors and clean.”

Video on social media showed wind and waves battering North Weymouth, south of Boston, flooding the streets with a slurry of cold water. Another video showed a street underwater in Nantucket and waves crashing against the windows of a building in Plymouth.

In the coastal town of Newburyport, near the New Hampshire border, officials encouraged coastal residents to move to higher ground.

Over 100,000 homes and businesses lost power in Massachusetts, and the outages continued to mount. No other states reported widespread outages.

The storm had two saving graces: dry snow that was less able to snap trees and down power lines, and its timing on a weekend when schools were closed and few people were commuting.

Parts of 10 states were under snowstorm warnings: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, along with much of the Delmarva Peninsula shared by Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Officials in all of these states warned people to stay off the streets.

Rhode Island, which was under a snow storm warning, banned all non-emergency road travel.

In West Hartford, Connecticut, a trailer truck buckled on Interstate 84, blocking several lanes. Massachusetts banned heavy trucks from freeways.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul advised people to stay home as the storm lasted longer than expected and she warned of sub-zero wind chills after it passed. The state declared a state of emergency on Friday evening.

“This is a very serious storm, very serious. We have prepared for this. It could be life-threatening,” Hochul said. “It’s high winds, heavy snowfall, blizzards – all elements of a classic Nor’easter.”

Long Island police said they had to help motorists stuck in the snow. New York City expects up to a foot of snow by the afternoon.

In Philadelphia, where 6 inches fell early Saturday, few drivers ventured onto roads covered in knee-high drifts.

In two of Delaware’s three counties, only essential personnel were allowed to drive.

Virginia, where a snowstorm this month left hundreds of drivers stranded on Interstate 95 for hours, didn’t hesitate to have resources on hand.

Ocean City, Md. recorded at least a foot of snow. The Maryland State Police tweeted that as of midmorning, soldiers had received more than 670 911 calls and responded to more than 90 accidents.

Hardy New Englanders took the storm in stride.

Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray jokingly invited the public to his home in suburban Boston on Saturday for a free snow shovel clinic.

“I will provide the driveway and several walkways to ensure your training is conducted in the most lifelike situation possible,” he said.

Washington and Baltimore got some snow but were largely spared. The worst of the northeast winds were expected to sweep across Canada on Sunday morning, where several provinces have been warned.

Catalini reported from Morrisville, Pa. Associated Press video journalist Rodrique Ngowi in Boston and writer David Collins in Hartford, Connecticut; Jeff McMillan of Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Ron Todt in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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