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Tens of millions of people in the Northeast hunkered down on Monday for a historic blizzard that was expected to drop more than 2 feet of snow, whipped around by winds approaching hurricane force — enough to bring New York, Boston and most of the northeast corridor to an eerie standstill.

More than 7,000 flights were scrapped, and the major airlines warned that practically nothing would take off or land in New York, Boston and Philadelphia as the worst of the storm sweeps in overnight and Tuesday morning.

Store shelves emptied, schools shut their doors, and authorities either pleaded with people to stay home or outright closed the roads to all but emergency vehicles.

The snow began to lighten up in New York around 8 p.m., but Mayor Bill de Blasio warned residents not to drop their vigilance. He cited forecasts for snow to fall at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour overnight, although meteorologists later predicted only about 1- 2 inches per hour in the city around midnight.

By 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, there was 5.5 inches on the ground in New York’s Central Park, with forecasts for an additional 5 to 8 inches, according to The Weather Channel. Boston’s Logan Airport had 2.3 inches after midnight with 15-24″ more expected, and Hartford, Conn., had 2 inches with another 10-16″ on the way.

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