CNN reported the first confirmed fatality attributable to the monster winter storm was in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where police said one person died in a traffic accident.
There was already 14 inches of snow in Smithfield, R.I., and more than a foot was reported in parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, the network said. It was being whipped around by winds gusting as high as 74 mph at Cape Cod, the network said. More than 2 feet of snow is possible and more than 40 million people will be affected by the time it's all over.
CNN said more than 5,000 flights at about 60 airports were canceled. Amtrak and regional commuter rail service in New York and elsewhere also were affected by the blizzard, which Accuweather.com said was actually two separate storms that had merged.
A Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman said the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Mass., had shut down and was operating on backup generator power as designed after "an unusual event" after off-site power was lost because of the storm, the Boston Herald reported.
Boston-area radio station WATD-FM reported there were no complications as the reactor shut down at 9:18 p.m. EST.
Boston snowplow driver Chris Moran said the storm had emptied the streets of people.
"Boston is kind of eerie at the moment," he said. "People are off the streets, and it looks like it could be 3 o'clock in the morning."
Nick Camerada of Staten Island, who endured Hurricane Sandy this fall, was among the millions hunkering down as governors, including those in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, declared states of emergency.
"You can't mess with Mother Nature," he said.
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