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U.S. Northeast Mollywhopped by Winter Storm

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The U.S. Northeast was pummeled by a winter storm Thursday morning with the New York City and Boston areas taking the brunt of the harsh weather, which came with below freezing temperatures, low visibility, and treacherous icy roads during the morning commute.

Commuters in the densely populated region awoke to windblown snow — less than 24 hours after enjoying spring-like temperatures — and faced slick highways. 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.

The National Weather Service, which designated the the storm as Winter Storm Niko, predicted that the Boston area and eastern Maine could get 12 to 18 inches of snow, and a blizzard warning has been issued for all of Long Island until 6 p.m., New York City could see 8 to 12 inches and the Philadelphia area 4 to 8 inches. Near whiteout conditions are possible, with the snow expected to fall at a clip of 2 to 4 inches per hour at its peak.

Authorities say nearly 1,700 flights have been canceled at New York City’s three major airports because of the powerful winter storm hitting the region.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says Newark International has the most cancellations with 607 as of 6:30 a.m. Thursday, followed by 572 at LaGuardia and 508 at JFK for a total of 1,687 flights. The agency says that’s roughly 50 percent of the daily flights at the three airports.

Flight cancellations in the New York metro area and other northeastern states began Wednesday as the storm approached the region. The storm is expected to dump more than a foot of snow on some parts of the New York City area by the end of the day.

The majority of flights have also been canceled at Philadelphia International Airport.

Hundreds of schools are closed from the Albany area to the eastern tip of Long Island because of the major Northeast storm that’s expected to dump more than a foot of snow in some areas.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for all of Long Island until 6 p.m. Thursday. Meteorologists say high winds and blowing snow will reduce visibility in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Snow is slowing the morning commute around New York City and upstate, where highways and secondary roads in the Albany area are covered in snow.

Snowfall forecasts range from a few inches in central New York to a foot or more in the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. Wind gusts in some metro New York areas are expected to be as high as 45 mph.