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NE Blizzard 2015 Falling Short Of Predictions

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More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were canceled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. [CBS] More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were canceled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. [CBS]
Light snow fell steadily early Tuesday in midtown Manhattan as a few municipal trucks rumbled down empty streets. [CBS] Light snow fell steadily early Tuesday in midtown Manhattan as a few municipal trucks rumbled down empty streets. [CBS]
NEW YORK CITY -

Tens of millions of people along the East Coast hunkered down for a storm that for most was apparently failing to live up to predictions of being one of the worst they'd ever seen.

Forecasters originally said the storm could bring 1 to 3 feet of snow and punishing hurricane-force winds. But early Tuesday, they downgraded most of those numbers, saying New England would fare the worst, but even there not as bad as expected.

Bruce Sullivan of the National Weather Service said Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could get the most snow, about 2 feet. New York could see 10 inches to 20 inches, Hartford, Connecticut, 1 to 2 feet, and Philadelphia and central New Jersey about 6 inches.

By 3 a.m. EST Tuesday, West Islip, in central Long Island had almost 15 inches and snow was falling at a rate of about three inches per hour.

But Seaford, in western Long Island, had only about five inches and Manhattan's Central Park about six at 3:39 a.m. Norwalk, Connecticut had five inches, and Newark, N.J. only about three.

Massachusetts was getting hit harder. Sandwich and Plymouth both had about 13 inches. As of 5:40 a.m. EST, some 10,000 customers were in the dark in Massachusetts, according to figures compiled by CBS News.

The National Weather Service over the weekend had issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions.

All too aware that big snowstorms can make or break politicians, governors and mayors moved quickly to declare emergencies and order the shutdown of streets, highways, bridges and tunnels to prevent travelers from getting stranded and to enable plows and emergency vehicles to get through.

Citing "very dangerous conditions," Connecticut State Police closed all roads statewide at about 5:30 a.m.

Workers in businesses across the Northeast left work early on Monday.

"When you wake up in the morning, it is going to look like a blizzard," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, echoing the concern of many government leaders.

Light snow fell steadily early Tuesday in midtown Manhattan as a few municipal trucks rumbled down empty streets. The city had an almost eerie, post 9/11 feel to it: no airplanes in the sky. An unexpected quiet.

More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were canceled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark.

Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to go home and stay there, adding: "People have to make smart decisions from this point on."

In New Jersey, plows and salt spreaders remained at work on the roads Monday night in Ocean County, one of the coastal areas that was expected to be among the hardest hit. There was a coating of snow on the roads but hardly any vehicles were traveling on them, as residents seemed content to stay indoors and monitor the storm in comfort.

Most businesses in the area had gone dark, including some convenience stores and gas stations.

On Wall Street, however, the New York Stock Exchange stayed open and said it would operate normally Tuesday as well.

Utility companies across the region put additional crews on standby to deal with anticipated power outages.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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