Snow removal crews were still active in New York City Friday morning as travel resumed. (Photo/Erin Cassidy)
The new year wasted no time delivering a powerful blizzard to the Northeast, one intent on creating dangerous travel conditions, closing schools and leaving more than a foot of snow on the ground in some major cities.
Beginning in the Midwest on Thursday morning, the storm brought fresh snow to Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
The white stuff quickly tied up travel for thousands, as more than 5 inches fell at Indianapolis International Airport and nearly a foot of snow accumulated near O'Hare and Midway Airports in Chicago.
Late in the day, each were reporting excessive delays.
For those on the ground, the powder snarled interstates and clogged roadways regionally.
"Temperatures were much lower with this storm than any other storm we've seen so far this season, allowing just about all of the snow to stick to the roads," Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
As of 8:00 a.m. EST Thursday, the Illinois Department of Transportation was already reporting Interstates 100 percent snow- and ice-covered in Collinsville, Effingham and Champaign and at least 75 percent covered in Lincoln, Quincy and Springfield.
By the afternoon hours, snow was spreading chaos farther eastward, moving into Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.
The mayor of Boston declared a snow emergency by noon and proactively closed all Boston public schools Friday.
In New York, travel conditions quickly worsened on I-80, I-79 and the Southern Tier Expressway of New York.
Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the closure of the Long Island Expressway, 87-S and I-84 by midnight. The busy routes did not reopen until after 8:00 a.m. EST Friday.
The hardest hit area spanned eastern New England from Portland, Maine, down to Cape Cod.
In Boston, air temperatures plummeted into the low single digits with heavy snow falling and winds gusts as high as 40 mph. Windchill in the city dropped between 25 and 35 degrees below zero.
"Because it was so cold the snow was very light, so there was tremendous amount of blowing and drifting which caused whiteout conditions," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist John Dlugoenski said.
Most of the blizzard conditions occurred mainly across New England.
The storm strengthened rapidly east of New York after it moved out into the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
"The precipitation was heavier in this area as the storm had more moisture to work with," Dlugoenski said.
Between Thursday and Friday, thousands of flights were cancelled in the Northeast, and public transportation nearly came to a halt across New York City and Boston.
Snow was winding down for most cities as of noontime Friday, as the coldest air in the past five years began to surge into the Northeast.
After a mild start to February, cooler air will arrive in Germany at midweek, sending temperatures closer to normal.
Cold air and flurries are in store for the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday but should not significantly impact voter turnout.
Snow and slippery travel will arrive in the mid-Atlantic states prior to the middle of the week.
Waves of arctic air invading the eastern half of the United States this week will culminate with the coldest weather of the season so far for some areas by the Valentine's Day weekend.
Chilly air will visit New Orleans this year for the annual Mardi Gras celebrations and linger over the city until later in the week.
Denver Broncos fans celebrating the Super Bowl win will see ideal conditions for Tuesday's parade and pep rally.
Mayor Lindsay Storm (1969)
1-2 ft of snow from SE New York into New England. Bridgeport, CT wind gusts to 65 mph; 800 cars stranded on Tappen-Zee Bridge, NYC. Property damage: New England more than $10 million. 10 people die from over exertion (heat seizure). Thousands of homes lost utility service. Drifts 10-20 ft. deep. Thousands stranded on highways. New York Thruway closed from New York City to Albany.
Venice, Italy (1991)
Bitterly cold air over the city froze the canals for the first time since 1985.
New England (1741)
Greatest snow of Hard Winter 1740/1741: 3ft near Hartford.