NEW YORK (AP) -- A powerful East Coast blizzard menaced would-be travelers by air, rail and highway Monday, leaving thousands without a way to get home after the holidays and shutting down major airports and rail lines for a second day.
Buses were stranded on snowed-in highways and passengers in New York City spent a cold night stuck in an unheated subway train.
Officials urged anyone who did not have to drive to stay off roads in the region, where high winds pushed snow into deep drifts across streets, railroads and runways. More than two feet of snow had fallen in some areas by Monday morning.
Eric Schorr, 22, was trying to get from New York City to Tel Aviv Sunday night, but ended up spending about 9 hours stuck on the tarmac at Kennedy Airport.
"People are exhausted ... they want to get home," he said. His flight was rescheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.
In Monmouth County, N.J., state troopers brought water and food to diabetics marooned on two passenger buses carrying about 50 people on the Garden State Parkway, where stranded cars cluttering ramps stymied snow plows and ambulances, state police spokesman Steve Jones told NBC's "Today" show. One bus was freed by 7 a.m. and the other was expected to be out soon, he said.
In New York City, hundreds of cold, hungry and tired passengers were stranded overnight at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports. Officials said they were being provided blankets and cots, but some would-be travelers were not allowed to retrieve their checked luggage, leaving them with no extra clothing or toiletries.
"When people start to get hungry you're going to see tempers flare," said Jason Cochran, of Manhattan, who has been stuck at Kennedy Airport since he arrived for his 6 p.m. Sunday flight to London.
He said his flight boarded and passengers were hopeful they were taking off, but de-icing the plane took some time and by then, the wind started and it was too late. The plane eventually went back to the gate. He said passengers were told they would be sent to hotels, but that never happened and were given food vouchers. However, Cochran said vendors were running out of provisions.
Not even New York City's subway system -- usually the reliable workhorse during a snow storm -- could withstand the storm. Some subway passengers were stranded for hours on trains that broke down in Queens.
Christopher Mullen, stranded aboard one train since 1 a.m., said conditions were extremely frustrating.
"No food, no water. Cold. That's the main thing that's bothering everyone," Christopher Mullen told NY1.
Hundreds of travelers dozed Monday in Long Island Rail Road train cars frozen at the platform. Others lay like refugees at the entrance to the train link to Kennedy Airport and stood helpless at the ticket office, waiting in vain for good news to flash on the schedule screens. Hours went by without a single train leaving with passengers.
Buses were knocked out as well, cabs were little more than a myth and those who tried walking out of the station were assailed with a hard, frigid wind that made snowflakes sting like needles.
A blizzard warning, which is issued when snow is accompanied by sustained winds or gusts over 35 mph for three hours, was in effect early Monday from Delaware to the far northern tip of Maine. The storm was expected to bring its heaviest snowfall in the pre-dawn hours Monday, sometimes dumping 2 to 4 inches an hour. A total of 12 to 16 inches was expected across nearly all of Rhode Island, Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts, though forecasters said winds of 50 mph could create much deeper snow drifts.
Almost 30 inches of snow fell in Bergen County, N.J., by Monday morning, and 20 inches was reported in New York City's Central Park early Monday.
States of emergency were declared in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts, where Gov. Deval Patrick urged people who did not have to be on the roads to stay home, to ensure their safety and that of work crews. Nonessential state workers were told to stay home Monday.
New England commuters appeared to be heeding the call to stay off the roads. In greater Boston, highways into the city were nearly abandoned early Monday as many workers were given the day off and others were on vacation for the holiday week.
Wind gusts of up to 80 mph knocked out power to thousands. Utilities reported about 30,000 customers were out in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, mostly on Cape Cod and south of Boston.
The monster storm is the result of a low pressure system off the North Carolina coast and strengthened as it moved northeast, the National Weather Service said. Because of it, parts of the South had their first white Christmas since records have been kept.