The storm's more than 2,000-mile reach threatened to leave about a third of the nation covered in a hodge-podge of harsh weather. Ice fell first and was expected to be followed by up to two feet of snow in some places. Storm-battered New England towns feared they wouldn't have anywhere to put it.
Making matters worse was the expectation of brutal cold and winds gusting to near 60 mph.
The storm affected thousands of flights across the country. Some experts say that the storm could affect 100 million people. By midday on Tuesday, 6,500 flights around the country were canceled, according to FlightAware.com.
JetBlue canceled flights in and out of New York's JFK airport for the rest of Tuesday, with some flights to resume Wednesday afternoon. It plans to shut down its Boston flying Tuesday night through Thursday morning.
White-outs paralyzed Oklahoma City and the Tulsa area, where snowpack caused the partial collapse of a roof at the Hard Rock Casino but no injuries were reported. Blowing snow created drifts up to 4 feet high and trucks, city buses, snowplows and at least one ambulance had trouble navigating the treacherous roadways.
After burying the Midwest, the storm was expected to sweep into the Northeast, parts of which already are on track for record snowfall this winter. A winter storm warning was in effect for New York City, with forecasters predicting a mix of snow, sleet and ice. Federal workers in Washington were given the option of working from home because roads already were slippery Tuesday.
When the snow finally ends, bitter cold will set in. Temperatures in some parts of the Midwest will dip well below zero. Gusty winds will blow all of that snow. Visibility will be virtually zero at times.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.