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More deaths in Northeast as snow gives way to bitter cold

NEW YORK -- A ferocious snowstorm that buried some areas of the Northeast in nearly two feet of snow tapered off Friday, leaving death in its wake and giving way to a bitter chill compounded by winds that sent temperatures plunging well below zero.

At least three people died in New York state from Thursday night through Friday morning, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his decision to close major state roads during the height of the storm had paid off. "I think the facts have shown it was the right decision," Cuomo said of the closures, which took effect at midnight and lasted until Friday morning.

At least 2,128 flights within, into, or leaving the country had been canceled Friday; another 2,773 had been delayed, according to Flightaware.com. The worst-hit airports included Chicago's O'Hare and all three major New York City area airports: La Guardia, Newark-Liberty, and John F. Kennedy. At JFK, blowing snow and zero visibility forced the suspension of all incoming and outgoing flights for about four hours Friday.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that by late morning, 100% of major roads had been plowed and 92% of secondary streets had been cleared of snow, which reached nearly seven inches in parts of the city.

"Even though the snow has ended, the travel conditions are still obviously very, very difficult," De Blasio said, echoing Cuomo and other officials who urged people to stay off the roads for their own safety, and to make way for plows and other emergency vehicles. Officials also warned that while the brunt of the storm had passed, the cold left in its wake was at least as dangerous for people caught outside.

"It is deceptively cold," said De Blasio.

In New York, the wind was gusting at up to 33 mph, making the projected high of 14 degrees feel more like 5 below zero, according to the National Weather Service. In Bangor, Maine, wind-chill made it feel as cold as -21; Boston felt like -13.

It was so cold in Watertown, N.Y., that some events in the annual winter festival known as Snowtown USA had to be canceled as the storm blew in Thursday afternoon. Bitter cold was expected to remain across much of the Northeast until Sunday, part of a storm system that stretched from the Midwest to the Northeast.

A total of 11 deaths, from Michigan to Kentucky, were blamed on the weather. In New York, state officials said Friday that a woman was killed Thursday night when her car skidded off a highway and hit a tree. Another motorist died Thursday when his vehicle spun out on a highway and was hit by a tractor-trailer.

Earlier, officials reported that a 71-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease died when she wandered away from her home in rural northwestern New York and froze to death during the storm.

The other deaths were blamed on everything from slick highways to a mountain of rock salt that buried a man outside of Philadelphia.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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