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Snow: Airlines have already canceled 2300 flights for Thursday

Winter storm warnings were in effect in Boston and Philadelphia as well as New York City today, where city public schools were closed and gusty winds blew snow sideways down the streets of Manhattan.

Roads are deserted after 12 inches of snow fell on the city, grounding more than 1,700 flights and bringing NY to a standstill. Area schools are closed, from Philly to NY all the way up to Beantown, and there are reports of more than 2,700 flight cancellations in the area.

More than a foot and a half of snow has already fallen in some areas of MA and CT.

The United Nations also announced that "due to inclement weather" its NY headquarters would be closed, while public schools also closed in the city, as well as in Boston and Philadelphia.

Sam Lopresti, of Jersey City, New Jersey, warm and dry in his workplace, said he'd been pleasantly surprised that his early-morning train trip to Manhattan had gone smoothly.

Weather.com reported winter storm warnings stretched along the I-95 corridor from Maryland to Maine with snow and high winds making for a treacherous morning commute in places like Philadelphia and New York City, where drivers are being encouraged to stay off the roads.

The storm comes as a surprise to residents in the Northeast, who have been experiencing warmer weather than usual, with Philadelphia and NY seeing temperatures of 60 degrees on Wednesday. A snow emergency was also declared for Philadelphia and many suburbs. Snowfall could be heavy at times and visibility is likely to be poor.

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Several U.S. carriers scrapped hundreds of flights Thursday, mostly from JetBlue and American, which have hubs in the Northeast.

Eastern Long Island was bracing for 12 to 16 inches of snow, with a potential for power outages.

Many government offices also were shuttered with MA and CT ordering non-emergency workers to stay home. Click through the gallery to see more photos from this winter storm.

Schools in Philadelphia, Boston and CT, among other areas, will also be closed Thursday morning.

The prediction for total snowfall is still within 12 to 18 inches, but also with scattered thunderstorms.

The reason why this snowstorm is not lasting as long as most longtime residents of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast might expect has to do with the lack of a weather system over the Canadian Maritimes or North Atlantic to block its eastward movement. Forecasters said that would be slightly weaker than the wind strength required to classify the storm as a blizzard.

Snow is expected to last through much of the day before ending Thursday evening, the NWS said.

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