Forecasters said Thursday's weather had the potential to be the most powerful storm that some areas have seen in a mostly snow-free winter, and was being blamed for one death in New York City.
The flight aware website said there were almost 3,000 flight cancellations within, into or out of the United States, more than half at New York's three area airports and Boston Logan International.
A man died while shoveling snow in NY.
Schools closed in cities big and small, including New York City, Philadelphia and Boston [More from MassLive], and government offices told non-essential workers to stay home.
Parts of central Pennsylvania had already picked up 8 inches early Thursday, with northern Jersey hit with up to five inches, The Weather Channel reported. Whiteout conditions are possible, as the storm could at times dump between 2 and 4 inches of snow per hour.
A blizzard warning has been issued for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket in MA, as well as eastern and central Long Island in NY.
The good news here is that the strongest onshore winds with this storm will largely come between high tide cycles (Thursday afternoon).
The snow will continue all day long, only exiting the state between 7 and 9 p.m.
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Heavy snow and high winds associated with Winter Storm Niko are complicating travel across the Northeast U.S. Thursday.
NWS warns that heavy snow can make travel risky, and advises that if you must travel, you should keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
Many government offices also were shuttered with MA and CT ordering non-emergency workers to stay home.
According to Eversource, the areas most affected include communities on Cape Cod, including Barnstable with 10,271 outages and Yarmouth with 13,842 outages as of 4:50 p.m. During this winter season, the northeastern region has not witnessed too many winter storms.
Walsh said he feels the city is ready for the storm, but it's hard to fully predict the extent of the hazards.
Other airports experiencing significant cancellations Thursday include Philadelphia International Airport, Washington's Reagan National Airport and Bradley International Airport.
How much snow did New York City get?