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Nor’easter Slams East Coast but Goes Easy on Most Big Cities

States of emergency were being lifted and authorities were planning to let people back out onto the streets in New York and other big Northeastern cities after a nor'easter drifted off its predicted course Tuesday.

But other parts of the region got hammered by the storm, which snarled air travel across the country and contributed to at least two deaths, authorities said.

Blizzard Wreaks Havoc Across Northeast United States 2:44

New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and other metropolitan cities clustered along the Eastern Seaboard basically shut down after forecasters predicted as much as a foot and a half of snow. But when the storm arrived, it mostly sideswiped those areas, tracking farther west and north.

The leading edge of the storm was pushed westward by a low-pressure system that brought in warm air as it tracked along the coast, said Kait Parker, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

"If it was just a couple of miles farther to the east, they'd be getting slammed in New York City and Long Island," Parker said.

Snow forecasts were revised to just 2 to 4 inches in Philadelphia and 4 to 8 inches in New York City and Boston. The biggest effects were in places like Monticello, New York (up to 30 inches); Honesdale, Pennsylvania (up to 30 inches); Albany, New York (22 inches); and Worcester, Massachusetts (20 inches).

What's Next for the Nor'easter? 0:51

Police in Gilford, New Hampshire, said near-blizzard conditions were suspected in the death of a 16-year-old girl whose vehicle ran off ice-covered State Route 11A at about 7 a.m. and hit a tree. Authorities identified her as the daughter of a Gilford police dispatcher.

In East Hartford, Connecticut, an elderly man was struck and killed by a snow plow, police confirmed. The driver of the plow, which was operated by a private contractor, was distraught and was cooperating with authorities, police told NBC Connecticut.

Snow was forecast to reach as high as 30 inches in Syracuse, New York, where Tuesday night's National Invitation Tournament basketball game between Syracuse University and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro was postponed.

In Rochester, New York, firefighters said snow and cold conditions significantly hampered their rescue Tuesday morning of a man whose vehicle crashed through a fence and over a gorge, coming to rest at the bottom of the embankment near Seneca Parkway, NBC station WHEC reported. The man's condition wasn't disclosed.

"It's worse than most normal winter storms with the high winds coming off of the ocean," Ogunquit, Maine, Fire Chief Mark O'Brien told New England Cable News. "We have lots of concerns for more trees and more wires down."

Charlie Wilson, who has visited and lived in the beach town for more than 25 years, told the news channel: "I've seen a lot of winter storms, but nothing this ferocious. Everything is howling and crackling. It's an amazing experience to be in this."

Even where snow totals were lower than had been expected, however, the storm still managed to create havoc.

PHOTOS: Late Winter Storm Packs a Punch

By 5 p.m. ET, more than 6,000 takeoffs and landings had been canceled at airports from Chicago to Boston, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware. Almost 2,700 were at the big three New York-area airports alone: JFK, Newark and LaGuardia, where airport officials said 99 percent of all flights were scrubbed.

Image: People make their way through the snow-filled streets of Pittsfield, Mass.
People make their way through the snow-filled streets of Pittsfield, Mass. Stephanie Zollshan / The Berkshire Eagle via AP

Meanwhile, Amtrak's Northeast Regional service between New York City and Boston and between New York City and Washington, D.C., remained on modified, reduced schedules until further notice.

From Virginia to Maine, utility companies reported that almost 157,000 customers were without power Tuesday afternoon — almost 40,000 in Delaware.

In warmer areas, the snow turned into a slush of snow, sleet and rain, which created different hazards.

"The challenge this time is the type of precip," Richard Dorsey, section chief for the Montgomery County, Maryland, Transportation Department, told NBC Washington. "The freezing rain and the slush don't respond to the plows and the treatment we put on the roads."

CNBC: As Winter Storm Hits East Coast, Snow-Plowing Business Reaps The Profits

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lifted a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon, but he warned residents of coastal areas that serious flooding was likely.

Stone Harbor and Atlantic City in New Jersey reported that streets were already under water as high tide approached Tuesday morning. The tide level reached 7.8 feet in Atlantic City, just inches short of major flood stage.

The low-pressure system siting offshore is "shoving the water inland," said Parker, the Weather Channel meteorologist. "This isn't rainwater flooding. This is ocean water flooding."

And in many areas, the slush is expected to ice over during the evening overnight, forecasters said, turning big-city streets into skating rinks.

"It's still dangerous out there," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news conference. "This is going to freeze up now."

For many people, things are bad enough already. Take Graham Shaw of Boston, who fretted as his chance for a job in New York was iced out on Tuesday.

"I was supposed to go to an interview in New York, but my train got canceled," Shaw told NBC Boston.

In New York City, "The Daily Show" canceled Tuesday night's broadcast.

Others put on a brave face, however — Broadway producers said their stages would be lit Tuesday night, allowing people stranded downtown a rare chance to get into hot plays like "Hamilton," "Dear Evan Hansen" and "Waitress."

IMAGE: Heart transplant transport in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State Police and National Guard members, accompanied by snow plows, deliver a 23-month-old child to Geisinger Children's Hospital in Danville for an emergency heart transplant Tuesday. Pennsylvania State Police

In northeastern Pennsylvania, snow plows, state troopers and National Guard members formed a heavy-duty escort to make sure a 23-month-old child in need of an emergency heart transplant made it the 80 miles from East Stroudsburg to Danville, state police said. Gov. Tom Wolf said the child made it safely.

And in the New York City borough of Staten Island, police turned into cowboys Tuesday — sliding across the ice to wrangle two ponies who escaped after high winds blew their barn open, NBC New York reported.

Residents and tourists gawked and snapped photos as the ponies skittered and pranced in the snow-covered intersections near Hylan Boulevard and Richmond Avenue.

IMAGE: Ponies frolic in New York snow
Two ponies who broke that free from their stables cross a street Tuesday in the Staten Island borough of New York. New York police captured the ponies safely. Tara Komar / AP