NY, NJ weather turns bitter cold after winter storm

Gusty winds and falling temperatures plunged the East Coast into a deep freeze Sunday as people started digging out after a powerful nor'easter dumped mounds of snow, flooded coastlines and knocked out power to tens of thousands.

Temperatures will likely not rise above freezing until Monday, and will not crack the 40s until midweek.

Dangerous wind chills fell below zero in many locations across the region after the winter storm dumped snow from Virginia to Maine

How much snow did we get in NY and NJ?

Some people in our region woke up to nearly two feet of snow in certain areas.

Islip Airport on Long Island logged a jaw-dropping 24.7 inches of snow from the storm, while Bayville tallied 21 inches of snowfall.

The storm drew comparisons to the infamous Blizzard of '78, which paralyzed the region for days.

"I was around for the Blizzard of ’78, and this one was worse. The wind was tremendous," Joe Brescia, 72, said Sunday, tears streaming down his face from the bitter cold as he shoveled his sidewalk in Warwick, Rhode Island.

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A lifelong New Englander, Brescia said he was daydreaming of Florida.

"It’s getting very old," he said.

Elderly man drowns shoveling snow on Long Island

Bao Ha, 26, didn't think it was that bad until he went outside to shovel Sunday morning, under sunny blue skies, but frigid temperatures that felt well below zero with the wind chill.

"It’s funny, it didn’t look so bad when I looked out the window this morning," he said as he shoveled the sidewalk in front of his home in Waltham outside Boston, which according to the National Weather Service, got 16 inches (40 centimeters) of snow. "But it’s light, so it’s easy to shovel."

Amanda Smith, 36, tried to get an early start on shoveling Saturday night, but it was a task in futility.

"I did half yesterday, but the wind just blew it all back," she said as she cleared a neighbor’s driveway Sunday before starting her own.

Climate change, particularly the warming ocean, probably influenced the strength of the storm, atmospheric researchers said.

Much warmer ocean waters "are certainly playing a role in the strengthening of the storm system and increased moisture available for the storm," said University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Jason Furtado. "But it isn’t the only thing."

The storm had two saving graces: Dry snow less capable of snapping trees and tearing down power lines, and its timing on a weekend, when schools were closed and few people were commuting.

Parts of 10 states were under blizzard warnings at some point: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, along with much of the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

The National Weather Service considers a storm a blizzard if it has snowfall or blowing snow, as well as winds of at least 35 mph (56 kph) that reduce visibility to a quarter-mile or less for at least three hours. In many areas, Saturday’s storm met those criteria.

With the Associated Press.