BOSTON --The biggest storm to hit the Northeast this winter dumped a foot or more of snow along the New York-to-Boston corridor Thursday, turning roads treacherous, grounding flights and giving millions of people weather whiplash a day after temperatures soared into the 50s and 60s.
Scores of accidents were reported as drivers confronted windblown snow and slick highways, with southbound Interstate 95 at the Rhode Island-Connecticut line closed in the afternoon because several tractor-trailers got stuck on an incline.
More than 3,500 flights were canceled across the region and all planes bound for New York's Kennedy Airport were ordered held on the ground for hours while crews cleared the runways.
Schools closed in cities big and small, including New York City, Philadelphia and Boston, and government offices told non-essential workers to stay home.
A doorman in New York City died after falling down a set of stairs and crashing through a plate-glass window while shoveling snow, police said. He suffered cuts on his neck and face.
"It's pretty nuts here," Felecia White said as she and friends hunkered down in a restaurant in Newport, Rhode Island, waiting for the weather to improve enough for them to venture back out. "Even with four-wheel drive, you can't do anything. You can't see across the street."
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The National Weather Service said up to 11 inches fell in New York's Hudson Valley by noon, while areas around New York City and Long Island received 6 to 9 inches. West Hartford, Connecticut, had more than 13 inches, and Ludlow, Massachusetts, 16.
A blizzard warning was posted for a swath of the New England coast, with forecasters saying Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could get up to a foot and a half by evening.
Farther north, Manchester, New Hampshire, had received at least 11 inches by midafternoon and Berwick, Maine, about a foot.
A group of women wearing their pajamas on a New York City sidewalk because it was "Pajama Day" at ABC's "The Chew" show were undeterred by the snow. Elaine Higgins, a retired educator from Blackwood, New Jersey, was among those waiting in the freezing cold to get into ABC's studios.
"It's fun. And it's an experience. Yesterday was 65 degrees, and today, a snowstorm," she said. "What's life without adventure?"
The storm came midway through a largely snow-free winter in the Northeast and a day after much of the region enjoyed a brief taste of spring, with record-breaking highs in some places. Temperatures then crashed more than 30 degrees as the storm rolled in.
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"We were waiting for a good one all year," said Morgan Crum, a manager at Katz Ace Hardware in Glastonbury, Connecticut, where more than 50 people stopped in to buy shovels, ice melt, gas cans and other storm provisions. "We live in New England. This is what we expect."
The Philadelphia area was largely spared after being told to expect up to 8 inches in the morning. Some suburbs received 5 inches, but by the afternoon, there was almost no trace of snow downtown, and the sun came out.
Wearing a T-shirt, Alicia Jones tossed salt on the sidewalk outside the Philadelphia restaurant where she works as a server. She said her daughter had the day off from school, and Jones had been looking forward to playing in the snow.
"By the time we woke up, it was all over," she said.
Rhode Islanders reported seeing and hearing "thundersnow," with the rumble of thunder accompanying the near white-out conditions.
"It's pretty rare. I've been plowing snow for 20 years now. Every snowstorm, I'm out. I've only seen it three times in my life," said Jared Nunes, a state lawmaker from Coventry who runs a construction company that does plowing in the winter.