NEW YORK -- The first major snowstorm of the season hit the Northeast on Thursday, disrupting transit, closing schools and keeping people indoors with bitter cold and wind-blown snow that hurled sideways in places.
The snow, described as a "bomb cyclone" by some meteorologists, began in the South, dropping snow in some areas that hadn't seen it for decades.
On Thursday it moved up the Eastern Seaboard toward Canada. It is forecast to be followed by frigid cold, with temperatures in the single digits and teens in many areas and wind chills as low as 30 degrees below zero. The snow followed more than a week of frigid temperatures that have affected vast portions of the East, Midwest and South.
Several governors declared states of emergency, and blizzard warnings were in effect up and down the East Coast. Nearly 4,000 U.S. flights were canceled, according to the flight tracker FlightAware, and forecasters warned of coastal flooding and possible power outages.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio closed all public schools and urged New Yorkers to stay off the roads as much as possible. He said the Department of Sanitation had deployed some 700 salt spreaders and 1,500 plows. Roads remained open and the subway and regional train lines were running, but with delays and some interruptions to service.
Describing the storm as a "snowstorm-plus," Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York City, Westchester County and Long Island.
"Snow is one thing -- we can handle snow," he said in a briefing Thursday morning. "It's snow plus the wind, which is going to cause the trouble today."
More than 900 flights in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were canceled. All flights at La Guardia and Kennedy International airports in New York were temporarily suspended due to strong winds and whiteout conditions.
Despite the warnings and caution, many New Yorkers were unfazed by the storm and went about their regular business. City employees reported for work. Some expressed excitement about a snow day, while others scoffed at the notion that schools should be closed for only 6 to 10 inches of snow.
Elsewhere across the Northeast, the storm's impacts were more severe.