More than 1,700 flights were canceled at the three major airports serving New York City. Most domestic carriers were expected to suspend operations between 2 and 5 p.m. Friday and resume Saturday afternoon.
The state Emergency Operations Center in Albany was activated at noon Friday to monitor storm response. Outside the city, forecasts called for relatively manageable snowfall of 16 inches from the eastern end of Lake Erie to the Hudson Valley. Six inches was forecast in western New York.
In the Pocono Mountains, where more than a foot of snow could fall, schools were closed or delayed, and flights were canceled at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Airport.
Farther south, dozens of flights were also canceled at Philadelphia Airport as a light rain fell. The city was forecast to get 2 to 5 inches of snow.
The bad weather also curtailed bus service from Pennsylvania into New York City.
The evening commute could be especially treacherous, with snow predicted to fall at a rate of 1 to 1.5 inches an hour in some areas.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning through early Saturday afternoon and predicted up to 2 feet of snow and wind gusts of up to 60 mph.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee declared a state of emergency, and nonessential state workers were sent home Friday afternoon. Many schools were closed Friday. Transit service was suspended at noon Friday. The last plane left T.F. Green Airport near Providence just before 1:30 p.m. Friday; no other flights are scheduled to leave until Saturday.
About 100 state plows were already out on the roads, bolstered by 200 private contractors, officials said. Hospitals and health facilities were testing their generators to make sure they would work if power was lost.
The storm blanketed the state with snow, though not as heavily as other states, and hundreds of schools were closed. Northern Vermont was expected to get 4 to 8 inches of snow by Saturday morning while southern parts of the state could get 8 to 16 inches.
Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont post offices were closing early Friday, at 3 p.m. The storm also disrupted air travel, bus service and Amtrak trains.
Sources: State and local authorities; AP reporting