Snowplows (lower left) move past Copley Square during a blizzard in Boston, Massachusetts. AFP
A massive winter storm of strong winds and snow knocked out electricity from 650,000 homes and left thousands of people stranded on roads and at airports in northeastern US states Friday night.
At least five deaths were blamed on the storm, three in Canada and one in New York, said AP. Two men died in car crashes and one woman died shovelling her driveway in Ontario.
The blizzard dumped more than 86cm of snow on Connecticut, which was hit the hardest. Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire got almost 60cm. New York escaped the worst with 27cm.
Over 5,000 flights into and out of the region were cancelled and road travel became perilous because of snow that made driving difficult even for emergency responders.
Local public transportation was suspended from Friday and will remain so over the weekend. Massachusetts, in fact, made it unlawful to drive in these conditions, with a penalty of $500.
"We have stocked up for the worst," said Sanjeev Jaipuriar, a Boston executive, who worked from home on Friday and stayed home like most Bostonians.
Boston, like most northeastern towns, turned into a ghost town starting Friday afternoon with only snow plowers seen going around deserted parts of the city.
In New York, a 74-year-old man died after being struck by a car in Poughkeepsie; the driver said she lost control in the snowy conditions, the police said.
Snow was piled up so high in some areas that people found it difficult to open their doors, and in other parts only the top of the cars remained visible.
A Boston resident tweeted: "Awoke to find hip-deep snow in my backyard, and my front door blocked by a snowdrift. How to get out to shovel?"
Flooding was also a concern along the coast, and the possibility led to the evacuation of two neighborhoods in Quincy, Mass., Fire Deputy Gary Smith told AP.
But it did not appear to create major problems in New York and New Jersey, states hit hardest during last October's Superstorm Sandy.