Several state police cars were also stuck in deep snow in Maine, where stranded drivers were warned to expect long waits for tow trucks or other assistance.
Even the U.S. Postal Service closed post offices and suspended mail delivery Saturday in New England.
The wind-whipped snowstorm mercifully arrived at the start of a weekend, which meant fewer cars on the road and extra time for sanitation crews to clear the mess before commuters in the New York-to-Boston region of roughly 25 million people have to go back to work. But halfway through what had been a mild winter across the Northeast, it also could mean a weekend cooped up indoors.
A little more than 11 inches fell in New York City, where carpenter Kevin Byrne was using a scraper to dig out his car Saturday and was relieved the storm hadn't hit the city more strongly. He said he'd taken his shovel out of his car and left it at home.
"I wasn't prepared. ... But was anybody prepared? The last two winters have been so mild," he said. "I've been meaning to buy a salt spreader all winter long, but I just kept putting it off."
Nearly 22 inches of snow fell in Boston and up to 3 feet was expected, the National Weather Service said, threatening the city's 2003 record of 27.6 inches. In the heavily Catholic city, the archdiocese urged parishioners to be prudent and reminded them that, under church law, the requirement to attend Sunday Mass "does not apply when there is grave difficulty in fulfilling this obligation."
Gov. Deval Patrick enacted a statewide driving ban for the first time since the Blizzard of '78, a ferocious storm that dropped 27 inches of snow, packed hurricane-force winds and claimed dozens of lives.