"It's going to be not that difficult to dig out, compared to maybe some other nor'easters in the past, where it stayed cold after the storm went through,'' he said.
Drivers were urged to stay off the streets lest their cars get stuck, preventing snowplows and emergency vehicles from getting through. New York City ran extra commuter trains to help people get home before the brunt of the storm hit.
Amtrak stopped running trains in cities around the Northeast on Friday afternoon. Airlines canceled more than 4,300 flights through Saturday, and New York City's three major airports and Boston's Logan Airport shut down.
Interstate 95 was closed to all but essential traffic in Rhode Island, where the governor said power outages remained the biggest threat.
"With tree branches laden with heavy, wet snow, the winds picking up and the temperatures plunging all at the same time, it's a bad combination,'' Gov. Lincoln Chafee said.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick enacted a statewide driving ban for the first time since the Blizzard of '78. Hours before the ban went into effect at 4 p.m., long lines formed at gas stations, some of which were almost out of fuel.
James Stone said he was saving the remaining regular gas at his station in Abington, south of Boston, for snowplow drivers.
"It hasn't snowed like this in two years,'' Stone said. "Most people are caught way off-guard.''
For Joe DeMartino, of Fairfield, Conn., being overprepared was impossible: His wife was expecting their first baby Sunday. He stocked up on gas and food, got firewood ready and was installing a baby seat in the car. The couple also packed for the hospital.
"They say that things should clear up by Sunday. We're hoping that they're right,'' he said.
Said his wife, Michelle: "It adds an element of excitement.''
The snow was too much of a good thing in some places. In New Hampshire, the University of Connecticut's Skiing Carnival was canceled because of the snowstorm. In Maine, the National Toboggan Championships in Camden were postponed from Saturday to Sunday, and the Camp Sunshine Polar Plunge was put off until March.
At Rosie's Liquors in Abington, customers were lined up eight to 10 deep Friday, snapping up rum, wine and 30-packs of beer.
"We've been absolutely slammed. It's almost been like Christmas here,'' manager Kristen Brown said. "A lot of people are saying, `I'm going to be stuck with my family all weekend. I need something to do.'''