About 510,000 homes and businesses remained without power late Saturday night, down from a total of about 650,000, and some could be cold and dark for days. Roads across the New York-to-Boston corridor of roughly 25 million people were impassable. Cars were entombed by drifts. Some people found the wet, heavy snow packed so high against their homes they couldn't get their doors open.

"It's like lifting cement. They say it's 2 feet, but I think it's more like 3 feet," said Michael Levesque, who was shovelling snow in Quincy, Mass., for a landscaping company.

In Providence, where the drifts were 1.5 metres high and telephone lines encrusted with ice and snow drooped under the weight, Jason Harrison laboured for nearly three hours to clear his blocked driveway and front walk and still had more work to do. His snowblower, he said, "has already paid for itself."

Five deaths blamed on storm

At least five deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the overnight snowstorm, including an 11-year-old boy in Boston who was overcome by carbon monoxide as he sat in a running car to keep warm while his father shovelled Saturday morning.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee cautioned that while the snow had stopped, the danger hadn't passed: "People need to take this storm seriously, even after it's over. If you have any kind of heart condition, be careful with the shovelling ."

Blowing with hurricane-force winds of more than 129 km/h in places, the storm hit hard along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between New York City and Maine. Milford., Conn., got 96 centimetres of snow, and Portland, Maine, recorded 81 centimetres, shattering a 1979 record. Several communities in New York and across New England got more than 60 centimetres.

Still, the storm was not as bad as some of the forecasts led many to fear, and not as dire as the Blizzard of '78, used by longtime New Englanders as the benchmark by which all other winter storms are measured.

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A city worker in New Bedford, Mass., cuts a fallen tree on Friday after the storm moved in. (Peter Pereira/Standard Times/Associated Press)

By midday Saturday, the National Weather Service reported preliminary snowfall totals of 63 centimetres in Boston, or fifth on the city's all-time list. Bradley Airport near Hartford, Conn., got 56 centimetres, for the No. 2 spot in the record books there.

Concord, N.H., got 61 centimetres of snow, the second-highest amount on record and a few inches short of the reading from the great Blizzard of 1888.

In New York, where Central Park recorded 28 centimetres, not even enough to make the Top 10 list, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city "dodged a bullet" and its streets were "in great shape." The three major airports -- LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark, N.J. -- were up and running by late morning after shutting down the evening before.

Most of the power outages were in Massachusetts, where more than 400,000 homes and businesses were left in the dark. Hours before midnight Saturday, about 344,000 customers remained without power. In Rhode Island, a peak of around 180,000 customers lost power, or about one-third of the state. Late night, the total was down to 130,000.

Connecticut crews had slowly whittled down the outage total to 31,000 from a high of about 38,000, and power was restored to nearly all of the more than 15,000 in Maine and New Hampshire who were left without lights after the storm hit.

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An abandoned vehicle is seen on Saturday covered in snow along an empty Interstate 91 after the storm hit East Windsor, Conn. (Jessica Hill/Associated Press)

Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island imposed travel bans until 4 p.m. to keep cars off the road and let plows do their work, and the National Guard helped clear highways in Connecticut, where more than 240 auto accidents were reported. The Guardsmen rescued about 90 motorists, including a few who had hypothermia and were taken to hospitals.

Around the New York metropolitan area, many victims of Superstorm Sandy were mercifully spared another round of flooding, property damage and power failures.

"I was very lucky and I never even lost power," said Susan Kelly of Bayville. "We were dry as anything. My new roof was fantastic. Other than digging out, this storm was a nice storm." As for the shovelling , "I got two hours of exercise."

At New York's Fashion Week, women tottered on heels through the snow to get to the tents to see designers' newest collections.

Some spots in Massachusetts had to be evacuated because of coastal flooding, including Salisbury Beach, where around 40 people were ordered out.

Among them were Ed and Nancy Bemis, who heard waves crashing and rolling underneath their home, which sits on stilts. At one point, Ed Bemis went outside to take pictures, and a wave came up, blew out their door and knocked down his wife.

"The objects were flying everywhere. If you went in there, it looks like ... two big guys got in a big, big fight. It tore the doors right off their hinges. It's a mess," he said.