Blizzard warnings were posted for parts of New Jersey and New York's Long Island, as well as portions of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, including Hartford, New Haven, Conn., and Providence. The warnings extended into New Hampshire and Maine.
To the south, Philadelphia was looking at a possible 4 to 6 inches of snow.
In anticipation of the storm, Amtrak said its Northeast trains would stop running this afternoon.
Parts of New York, still reeling from October's Superstorm Sandy, were still using tents and were worried about how they would deal with the nor'easter.
"Hopefully, we can supply them with enough hot food to get them through before the storm starts," Staten Island hub coordinator Donna Graziano said.
Ahead of the storm, residents of the Northeast piled into crowded supermarkets and hardware stores to purchase food and supplies. Others gassed up their cars in advance, braving long lines and wait times.
Cambridge, Mass., resident Rainy Neves detailed what she was stocking up on.
"Honestly, a lot of junk -- a lot of quick things you can make just in case lights go out, a lot of snacks to keep the kids busy while they'd be inside during the storm, things to sip with my friends, things for movies," she said. "Just a whole bunch of things to keep us entertained."
The fire department was called in to a grocery store in Salem, Mass., because there were too many people in the store Thursday afternoon trying to load up their carts with essential items.
"I'm going to try this roof melt stuff for the first time," Ian Watson of Belmont, Mass., said. "Just to prevent the ice dam. ... It's going be ugly on that roof."
ABC News' Danielle Genet and Max Golembo, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.