Massive winter storm slams Northeast with snow after inland shift

ABC New(NEW YORK) -- A late-winter snowstorm bore down on the Northeast Tuesday, blanketing large swaths of the area in snow, but shifted inland, dramatically reducing the expected snowfall for the New York City area.

The storm which stretched from Washington, D.C. to New England, halted school, work and travel for millions of Americans.

Blizzard warnings have been issued in parts of nine states in the densely populated Northeast. The hardest hit areas so far were eastern Pennsylvania, northwest New Jersey and upstate New York, which received 1 to 2 feet of snow. Five states — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania — have declared states of emergency.

The storm comes less than a week before the start of spring.

The latest snowfall numbers and blizzard warnings

The storm system has made a significant shift inland, leading the blizzard warnings in the highly populated metropolitan areas along Interstate 95 to be canceled.

Blizzard warnings are in effect in nine states from Pennsylvania to Maine. The highest snowfalls are expected in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, the Catskill Mountains in New York and the Berkshires in Massachusetts, as well as New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Two feet of snow was observed in the Poconos this afternoon.

The blizzard warning was canceled for New York City after the storm shifted west. Seven inches of snow fell in New York City as of this afternoon, while New York City's northwest suburbs have seen over 1 foot. The area, which had been forecast to receive up to 20 inches of snow, was also hit with sleet.

At least 20 inches of snow was observed in parts of eastern Pennsylvania but Philadelphia faced just 4 inches of snow.

Wind gusts topped 60 mph in Seaside Heights, NJ, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Mid-day today, the heaviest snow is expected to move across New England, up to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

From Hartford, Connecticut, to the Boston area, where it is still snowing, snowfall totals so far range from 5 inches to 15 inches.

New York redeploying assets from NYC to central NY

New York state shifted its resources to battle the snow from New York City to the central part of the state after the storm moved west, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

“Mother nature is an unpredictable lady sometimes. She was unpredictable once again today," Cuomo said. "The forecast said the storm would hit New York City and Long Island the heaviest ... the way the weather pattern is actually shaping up, the storm has moved more westward."

The most hard-hit part of the state is now expected to be central New York, which could see blizzard-like conditions and up to 30 inches of snow, Cuomo said.

But Cuomo warned that because New York City and Long Island were seeing sleet, the Wednesday morning commute could be more difficult due to icing.

Schools in New York City were closed Tuesday and above-ground subway train service was shuttered.

Roads and sidewalks in New York City are slippery and dangerous, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. He urged New York City residents to stay inside "while we ride out this storm."

Connecticut prepares for up to 2 feet

In eastern Connecticut, expected snowfall totals vary widely, from 5-10 inches in the eastern part of the state, while central Connecticut could face 12-24 inches or more, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Tuesday morning.

A statewide travel ban was issued Monday and Malloy said citizens appear to be complying. Buses were canceled and Malloy emphasized that it's important to keep the roads clear, other than essential travel.

Connecticut's state police and National Guard had extra personnel ready to assist motorists that need to travel, he said.

New Hampshire snow fall rates could reach 4 inches per hour

In New Hampshire, the storm was expected to bring 1-2 feet of snow, with strong winds and snowfall rates of up to 4 inches per hour.

Perry Plummer, director of homeland security and emergency management, urged drivers to stay off the roads.

"The rapid rate of snowfall, coupled with strong wind gusts, will create quickly changing conditions with low to no visibility," Plummer said. "Our biggest concern right now is the treacherous driving conditions. ... We’re asking everyone to avoid travel when possible."

Travel largely out of the question

The storm has led to the cancellation of 5,000 flights in the U.S. and has shuttered Amtrak between New York City and Boston.

New York City's LaGuardia Airport is open although airlines have canceled 1,124 of the normal 1,150 daily flights.

Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey is open but airlines have canceled 1,015 of the normal 1,200 daily flights.

And at New York City's JFK Airport, which is also open, airlines have canceled 772 of the normal 1,200 daily flights.

On Tuesday 2,932 schools, universities, businesses and government offices across nine states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast were scheduled to be closed or have delayed openings. Schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts were affected the most, with 914 and 630 closings or delays scheduled, respectively.

The snow is expected to make many roads impassable and the National Weather Service warned people in the affected areas to stay inside.

“Visibilities will become poor with whiteout conditions at times. Those venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented,” the National Weather Service said in a statement early Tuesday. “So persons in the warning area are strongly advised to stay indoors.”

Damage in the Midwest

The weather system dumped a swath of snow on parts of the Midwest Monday before moving east across the country.

Icy road conditions in Chicago led to two car wrecks early Tuesday that involved 34 vehicles.

Seven people were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries as a part of those incidents, which occurred on the Kennedy Expressway, officials said.

Separately, four men died while removing snow in southeast Wisconsin, where snowfall topped 12 inches in some areas. The men were all between the ages of 64 and 76, according to ABC Milwaukee affiliate WISN-TV.

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