The first winter storm of 2014 blasted through the East Coast Thursday into Friday morning, leaving airports full of stranded people and major snowfall in cities such as Boston and New York.
Dubbed "Hercules," the blizzard dumped 21 inches of snow in Boxford, Mass., a town north of Boston, as of Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service; other towns reportedly neared 2 feet of accumulation by Friday morning. Along the coast, towns like Scituate, Mass., experienced flooding as the tide rushed in. Meanwhile, places in upstate New York were hit with 18 inches of snow and New York City was expected to get 8 inches, according to The Associated Press.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie both called states of emergency by Friday morning, to help enable more efficient help to struggling residents.
The massive storm stretched from Washington, D.C., where snow began accumulating Thursday night, up into Maine. Conditions are expected to continue to be poor throughout Friday morning, as cold temperatures and powerful winds are expected to follow the snowfall and swirl the light, powdery snow even in places where it has been cleared.
""The upcoming period extending into the weekend will continue to feature wintry precipitation and much below normal temperatures," reported the National Weather Service. "As of early this morning, widespread snow continues to fall across the coastal sections of the Mid-Atlantic and up into New England."
A combination of "arctic air" and "gusty winds" would result in temperatures up to 20 degrees below zero, the NWS said.
More than 1,500 U.S. flights had been canceled and another 2,100 delayed Friday morning, according to FlightAware.com, a flight-tracking website. Hundreds each had been canceled from Boston's Logan Airport, New Jersey's Newark Liberty International and New York's LaGuardia Airport, and overall the storm resulted in nearly 2,500 cancellations and 7,000 delayed flights.
The Massachusetts National Guard has called up to 400 members in preparation of possible evacuations, according to the Boston Globe. It's also prepared to deploy up to 50 Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, capable of driving in up to 3 feet of water, the Globe reports.
The monster storm could affect up to one-third of the U.S. population, or about 100 million people in nearly two dozen states, as it moved from the Midwest to the East Coast, and then pushed from south to north, according to CNN.
"Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely," the Weather Service said. "This will lead to whiteout conditions making travel extremely dangerous. Do not travel."
Though powerful winds, some gusting up to 30 miles per hour, are following in the storm's wake, it's not expected to lead to extensive power outages because of the lightness of the snow, a product of the accompanying cold temperatures, according to the Weather Channel.
Many schools up and down the coast had preemptively canceled classes ahead of the widely anticipated storm.
Conditions are expected to improve Friday afternoon, though the expected below-zero temperatures from Boston to Maine prompted officials to call on residents to check on their neighbors and use caution when driving.