Feb. 26, 2010 -- The endless winter of 2010…kept not ending today, with more than 20 inches of snow crippling New York City, and two to three feet measured in its suburbs and other parts of the Northeast.
More than a million homes and businesses are reportedly without power, including 330,000 of the 800,000 customers in New Hampshire, where Gov. John Lynch has declared a state of emergency.
"High winds and heavy rains have downed trees and power lines across our state, and it is important that the state has all its resources available to manage this situation," said the governor in a statement.
Wind gusts of 91 mph were reported in Portsmouth, N.H. Jim Speigel, a teacher from Concord, N.H. said that winds were so powerful that "they literally uprooted entire trees that either blocked roads and leaned on power lines, which led to the closing of many roads. It was very scary to see."
At least three people were reported killed in the storm. A man died Thursday afternoon in New York's Central Park when a tree limb snapped and hit him. The snow was moist and heavy, bringing down countless trees and threatening flat roofs where it piled up.
This afternoon the Air Transport Association said about 1,000 airline flights had been canceled so far today, including 350 at Newark Liberty Airport. That means a total of 2,300 have been grounded by the storm since Thursday morning. Airlines have been trying to cancel flights in anticipation of storms this year, so that people do not crowd airport terminals and then find themselves stranded.
The storm may not have been the biggest of the winter, but it happened to stall over one of the most densely populated parts of the country: the Eastern Seaboard, including New York and Philadelphia, with snow or flooding rain stretching west to the Great Lakes and north across New England.
"I'm sick of it," said one New Yorker interviewed by ABC News. "I am looking for warmer weather, I went to school in Tampa, Fla., and I came back for this? What was I thinking?"
"It is certainly a significant storm," said John Koch of the National Weather Service. "It's one of the most significant of the winter, though beyond that I wouldn't want to characterize it."
The Associated Press said the highest wind reported was 91 mph in Portsmouth, N.H. -- making all that talk of a "snow hurricane" (not a genuine meteorological term) legitimate. There were gusts of 60 mph or more from New York's Long Island to Massachusetts.
New York's commuters had a rough go of it. New Jersey Transit finally restored most bus service to the city's western suburbs this afternoon, but said rail service would be reduced after 4 p.m. Commuter trains, usually reliable in the worst weather, were slowed or canceled in New York and New Jersey while maintenance crews tried to clear the tracks.
Tuxedo, N.Y., about 40 miles northwest of New York City, reported 26 inches of snow.
"We started since 7 o'clock this morning -- yesterday morning," said Dominick Tondo, driving a snowplow in Suffern, N.Y. "We don't even know what day it is. We just keep going and going and going."
Good News and Bad News
The good news is that the storm is dissipating; New York skies occasionally brightened this afternoon. The bad news is that it is spreading over a larger area. There was snow as far west as Michigan and Indiana, and rain mixed with snow in Atlantic Canada.
Mountains of Snow in Northeast; Flooding and High Winds a Threat
The winter storm warning for the New York area has finally been lifted after more than 24 hours, though a milder "advisory" remains in effect until 6 a.m. Saturday.
Coastal areas east of New York City got hard rain yesterday instead of snow because of moist, relatively mild air from the Atlantic. Now, they have snow. And winds swirled around the center of the storm -- strongest 50 to 100 miles from the storm's center, which drifted east over southern New England.
"You know it's not easy," said a New York cab driver. "You got to be driving, like, five miles per hour. It's really crazy."
Almost all school systems in the New York suburbs were closed today. New York City's public schools were closed -- a rarity for a city that tries to keep going in bad weather.
"When we went to bed last night we hoped we could keep the schools open," said Mayor Mike Bloomberg," because one of our main objectives is always to keep students in school and allow parents to go to work, but unfortunately the storm just sat on us all night long."
Eric Warner of Brooklyn did not have the same luck as the school kids. He had to drive a truckload of milk and eggs from New Jersey to Manhattan.
"When the snow hits you, it feels like needles," he said.
ABC's Steve Splane, Matt Hosford, Gregory Croft, Lee Speigel and Caila Klaiss contributed to this story. Additional information from the Associated Press.