Last Updated Jan 2, 2014 2:58 AM EST
HARTFORD, Conn. -- A winter storm arrived early Thursday in New England with the potential to drop more than a foot of snow.
Winter storm warnings and watches were in effect for a large swath of the northeast as the storm promised to make travel messy on the first work day of the new year.
The worst of the storm was expected to hit later Thursday with bitterly cold temperatures.
Up to 14 inches of snow was forecast for the Boston area and the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Long Island from Thursday evening into Friday afternoon.
New York City could see 3 to 7 inches
and Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned commuters to leave their cars at home in case
highways had to be closed.
Snow fell Wednesday in the Upper Midwest.
The National Weather Service warned Chicago to expect dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills through Thursday night. The city broke a 96-year-old New Year's Day record with more than five inches of snow. Another foot is expected to fall by Thursday.
International Falls, Minn., rang in the New Year at minus 27 degrees. It felt like minus 1 in Ann Arbor, Mich., for a NHL hockey game that was played outdoors in front of record crowd of more than 105,000 people. It snowed throughout the game.
Along the East Coast, the heaviest accumulations were forecast for the New York metropolitan area, parts of Connecticut and in Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston, said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist for Accuweather.com.
Less snowfall was expected in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. A quick freeze and slippery conditions are likely around Baltimore and Washington, he said.
"It will be far from the worst storm to ever hit the area, but people should be prepared for flight delays and cancellations," Sosnowski wrote on the Accuweather.com website.More than 94 million people were estimated to be traveling during the holiday season through January 1, according to the automotive group AAA, although many people may not be planning to head home until later this week or over the weekend.
But many hoping to escape the cold or already on their way home after the holidays were grounded. More than 1,000 flights in and out of O'Hare International Airport were cancelled or delayed.
The last time a major storm slammed into the New York area at the winter holidays was in 2010, when 20 inches of snow fell on the city two days after Christmas. Streets were clogged, transportation slowed to a crawl and emergency services were snarled for days.
This powerful storm is likely to bring biting winds, Sosnowski said.
Another storm may bring move into the Northeast on Sunday, Accuweather.com said.