Prepared for Worst, Northeast Greets Blizzard

It came slowly, but when the storm that almost wasn't finally hit its peak, it battered much of the Northeast with heaps of snow and howling winds that whipped the New England area.

After flirting with the entire East Coast, the storm delivered a big wet, windy whack to the New England area today, pummeling Massachusetts and Maine. New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate New York got a dumping of snow: New York state got 28 inches in some areas, Vermont 29 inches, New Hampshire 23 inches, Massachusetts 24 inches and Maine 16 inches. New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., seemed to have missed the worst.

Keene, in southwestern New Hampshire was hit with around 2 feet of snow, nearly half of which fell during a three-hour period overnight.

A public works foreman in Keene said plow crews had been working double shifts since Monday.

"The snow is really heavy so it's really packing to the roads and it's making it really rough to clear off," said Hollis Howard. "With the amount of snow we're getting, it's hard to put the salt down and the sand down because it isn't doing any good."

In coastal areas of New Hampshire, emergency workers braced for floods from high tides whipped by wind gusts up to 50 mph.

In Vermont, residents woke to the biggest storm of the season as traffic snarled and several major airlines canceled flights.

Forecasters predicted Southern Vermont would receive about 3 feet of snow and warned the storm would be slow to move out.

Breaking the Ice

The governor of Massachusetts declared a state of emergency and extended it through Wednesday. The National Guard sandbagged coastal areas and prepared to evacuate residents as high tides threatened the coast.

In Boston, people endured gusty winds and ploughed through inches of slush while some 23,000 Bostonians were hit with a power failure.

In Worcester, Mass., residents woke to about 18 inches of snow on top of a thick layer of ice, making for very treacherous driving in the region.

Most flights at Boston's Logan International Airport and Hartford's Bradley International Airport were canceled Monday and today. Manchester Airport in New Hampshire was shut down.

New Yorkers, however, were spared the worst. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani today said the city's airports were all operating.

"The airports are open," he said. "A lot of flights have been canceled, so it's going to be kind of confusing."

After the Hype, Complaints Then Relief

The deluge came just as Northeasterners were wondering whether the storm's potential was exaggerated. Predicting that Monday would see the first major storm of the century, forecasts prompted some officials to err on the side of caution and close municipal offices, cancel classes and close stores.

One Massachusetts official did not second-guess the precautions he took.

"We'd rather err on the side of saving lives and property and for public safety than the opposite," said Stephen McGrail, director of the Massachusetts Operations Agency.

Though hit by a milder form of the storm, the Northeast will not a chance to breathe easy very long: forecasters say another storm may be coming by the end of the week.

ABCNEWS' Don Dahler, Morton Dean, and Bettina Gregory contributed to this report.