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Northeast blizzard shuts down businesses, transport

A blizzard that has dropped more than a foot (30 cm) of snow across the northeastern United States has snarled traffic and transportation, and has led to the cancellation of more than 4,500 flights at U.S. airports, according to FlightAware.com.

The snowfall, which affected up to 60 million people in nearly a dozen states, fell short of the massive predicted storm for the region. Forecasts for as much as 3 feet (90 cm) of snow had prompted governors in eight East Coast states to close schools, order travel bans and declare states of emergency.

Residents largely obeyed orders to stay off roadways and broadcasters in New York and Boston showed roads largely free of cars early on Tuesday. Transit systems in the region were shut down on Monday, but New York’s subway service is expected to resume Tuesday morning. With railway systems serving the suburbs largely shut down, many employees are expected to work from home.

Sustained winds in the area might hit 40 miles per hour (64 kph), though gusts as high as 78 mph (126 kph) were recorded on the island of Nantucket, off Massachusetts.

High winds and heavy snow were set to persist throughout the day, with another foot forecast to fall in parts of Boston. Wind-driven seas caused flooding along some low-lying roadways in coastal Massachusetts, state police said.

The heaviest snowfall was recorded in parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts, while New York City’s Central Park saw just 6 inches (15 cm), less than a quarter of the “historic” snowfall that some meteorologists had predicted.

“When you hear the word ‘crippling’ and you look out your window this morning, it is not there,” said John Davitt, a meterologist on New York’s NY1 news channel.

Travel was still snarled, with more than 4,500 flights canceled at U.S. airports, according to FlightAware.com, and no trains or buses in New York, Boston or New Jersey.

Stock exchanges, including Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s New York Stock Exchange unit, Nasdaq OMX Group, and BATS Global Markets, said they expected to stay open for normal operating hours on Tuesday.

The last time bad weather closed the stock markets was in October 2012 when Sandy hit the East Coast with flooding, punishing winds and widespread power outages.

The brutal weather paralyzed the New York City metropolitan area, with a shutdown of all subway, bus and commuter rail services on Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road. It was the first time the city subway had been halted due to snow.

New Jersey Transit and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority also suspended bus, rail and other services would also be suspended on Tuesday.

Coastal flood warnings were issued from Delaware to Maine, and National Weather Service officials in Boston reported early on Tuesday that waves just a few miles outside of Boston Harbor approached 20 feet (6 meters).

Amtrak suspended rail services between New York and Boston, and into New York State, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.

The biggest snowfall on record in New York City was during the storm of Feb. 11-12, 2006, when 26.9 inches (68 cm) fell, according to the city’s Office of Emergency Management.

—Reuters contributed to this report.