VIDEO: Blizzard batters the northeast
The massive storm shut down several airports on the East Coast, with no flights landing or taking off Thursday due to white-out conditions.
More than two-thirds of flights in and out of New York City and Boston airports were canceled. The flight-tracking site FlightAware reported nearly 4,800 canceled flights across the United States.
At Los Angeles International Airport, all United Airlines flights heading to New York Thursday morning and afternoon were all canceled. Delta, American and Virgin also canceled flights heading to major cities along the East Coast.
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The giant storm roared into the East Coast Thursday, threatening to dump as much as 18 inches of snow from the Carolinas to Maine and unleashing hurricane-force winds and damaging flooding.
Forecasters expected the system to be followed immediately by a blast of face-stinging cold air that could break records in more than two dozen cities, with wind chills falling to minus 40 in some places this weekend.
Blizzard warnings and states of emergency were in wide effect, and wind gusts hit more than 70 mph in some places. Eastern Massachusetts and most of Rhode Island braced for snow falling as fast as 3 inches per hour.
Three people were killed in North Carolina after their vehicles ran off snow-covered roads, authorities said.
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The massive storm began two days ago in the Gulf of Mexico and first struck the Florida Panhandle.
It was so cold in South Florida that iguanas fell from their perches in trees in suburban Miami. The reptiles became immobile when temperatures dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.