BOSTON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A monster weather system across the mid-Atlantic and New England is being blamed for at least two deaths and widespread travel disruption, authorities said.
Officials in Byron, N.Y., said a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease froze to death after wandering from her home, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. A man was killed in Fals, Pa., Thursday when he was buried under a pile of rock salt he had been moving with an excavator, the newspaper said.
Weather forecasters said a nor'easter that blanketed the mid-Atlantic and New England states with snow was expected to push into Canada Friday, leaving bitter cold behind and as much as 2 feet of snow in some areas, CNN reported.
More than 5,600 flights were delayed or canceled across the United States Friday, FlightAware.com -- a website that tracks flight delays and cancellations due to weather or mechanical issues -- reported. As of Friday afternoon, 2,228 flights were canceled and 3,381 flights were delayed.
In New York, the storm that had dumped 6 inches of snow in Central Park and brought wind gusts of 30-45 mph loomed as a key test of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York Times reported. As the city's public advocate, de Blasio -- who took office Wednesday -- was critical of the storm response under his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, when plows were slow to reach some neighborhoods.
"This has been and remains a dangerous storm," de Blasio said in a statement posted on his Twitter page. "It is going to be bitter cold today, and New Yorkers need to be extremely careful going outdoors. The best things people can do are to stay off the roads so we can clear them as fast as possible, and to check in on elderly and vulnerable neighbors who might need help this morning."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide state of emergency Thursday.
North of Boston, residents of Topsfield, Mass., received nearly 2 feet of snow.
Blizzard warnings were in effect for parts of Massachusetts, including Gloucester, Brockton, Plymouth and Cape Cod. Gov. Deval Patrick said the Massachusetts state government would be close Friday because of the storm and urged businesses to stay closed.
Wind chills in parts of Connecticut were expected to range from 5 to 20 degrees below zero Friday. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged residents to allow extra time for commutes.
Delaware said only essential employees were to report for work Friday, CNN reported.
School districts that had resumed classes after the holiday break canceled school because of the storm.
Forecasters said about a third the nation was in the storm's path.
Snow was predicted from the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes, with up to 8 inches forecast for Michigan's Upper Peninsula and additional snow expected along a cold front extending through the Midwest into the Central Plains, the National Weather Service said.
In Chicago, wind chills Friday were forecast to dip to 12 below zero, with snow possible over the weekend. The mercury fell to 5 below zero at O'Hare International Airport.
Minneapolis and St. Paul, which experienced several days of below zero temperatures, were expecting to see temperatures warm into the teens Friday and Saturday before returning negative numbers next week.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton Friday ordered all public school classes canceled statewide Monday, with forecasters calling for high temperatures well below zero -- in minus double digits in some places.
CNN said the cold moving into the northern Midwest Saturday will shift south Monday and Tuesday, carrying zero-degree temperatures as far south as Nashville.
Three of this weekend's four NFL wild-card playoff games will be played in freezing cold and snowy conditions. The most extreme cold will be at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., when the Packers host the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, NFL.com said.
The New Orleans Saints play the Eagles Saturday night in Philadelphia, where the temperature is forecast to be in the mid to upper 20s at game time.
In Cincinnati, where the Bengals host the San Diego Chargers in a day game Sunday, temperatures should be right around freezing and there is about a 90 percent chance of snow and rain.
The Kansas City Chiefs are at Indianapolis for a day game Saturday inside Lucas Oil Stadium.