Schools were ordered closed in New York City, many parts of New Jersey, Boston and elsewhere throughout the region.
The National Weather Service forecast winds up to 113km/h, which downed power lines.
Utility companies across the East worked to fix downed power lines early on Friday as about 21,000 customers remained without electricity, down from nearly 80,000 the day before, and issued warnings that temperatures may become dangerously low.
Local authorities were mobilizing thousands of snowplows to clear roads that had been blanketed on Thursday, after rural areas of New England and upstate NY experienced more than 30 centimeters of snowfall in less than 24 hours. Officials feared that fast-dropping temperatures after the storm passed would turn remaining snow on roadways to ice.
The airline said that anyone due to travel to or from New York, Newark or Boston today can postpone their trip for seven days free of charge.
More than 3,500 USA airline flights were canceled.
New York's John F Kennedy International Airport temporarily halted all flights due to whiteout conditions, it said on its Twitter feed. Schools were ordered to close in NY, many parts of New Jersey, Boston and other cities through the region.
Late on Wednesday, a baggage vehicle and two sleeper cars on an Amtrak train traveling from Miami to NY, with 311 passengers aboard, derailed as it was slowly backing into a station in Savannah, Georgia. It brought high winds and swift, heavy snowfall. Charleston, South Carolina, received 5.3 inches of accumulation, within an inch of its record. Federal government offices planned to delay opening for two hours on Thursday, while state officials in CT and MA ordered non-essential workers to stay home. In Maine, Governor Paul LePage ordered state offices closed for the day. The snow storm brought a break in extreme cold temperatures that have gripped much of the region since Christmas, frozen part of the Niagara Falls, played havoc with public works and impeded firefighting in places where temperatures barely broke 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 6 centigrade).More news: Major fire guts CineVista Studios in Mumbai, no casualties
Some 65,000 homes and businesses in the Northeast were without power early today, though that number was expected to rise as the storm intensifies across the region.
The storm left thousands without power, suffering in the bitter cold temperatures.
Low temperatures in New York City will hover in the single digits this weekend, with the possibility of dipping down to zero on Saturday night.. The winter storm has directly caused the death of 12 people, and the icy winds are blowing to speeds of up to 70mph as they travel across the Atlantic Ocean to the north.
Winds of 74 miles per hour or higher are considered hurricane force.
Federal government offices delayed opening for two hours, while state officials in Connecticut, New Jersey and MA ordered nonessential workers to stay home.
Weather experts and meteorologists have said that the winter storm could probably be a bomb cyclone due to the unusual atmospheric pressure drop that has led to conditions that are characteristic of a hurricane.
"Due to strong wind gusts, any power outages are expected to be prolonged because bucket trucks can not withstand the winds", Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy told reporters.