Lines of customers snaked around storefronts as many braced for the worst.
When Reading, Massachusetts, resident Elizabeth Frazier arrived at a grocery store late Thursday night, shoppers were already buying up the store.
"It's a zoo in there," she said. "There's nothing left on the shelves," she told CNN affiliate WHDH.
Governors across New England and New York have declared states of emergency, and all cars and trucks -- except emergency vehicles -- must now be off Massachusetts and Connecticut roadways. A similar ban in Rhode Island took effect at 5 p.m.
Violating that ban could incur a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.
By Friday night, the storm had already led to hundreds of cancellations of public school classes to sporting events. The storm even prompted the cancellation of ACT tests, for would-be college students, around the Northeast.
Utility companies tried to get a head start on the storm, by having additional crews ready to respond to outages caused by downed power lines.
The fear is that, as happened after Sandy, such outages could persist for days. Still, for all the alarms being raised, the mayor of Boston -- which forecasters expected would be the city hardest hit by the storm -- said he expected residents of his community and others to hunker down and weather the storm.
Said Mayor Thomas Menino, "We are hardy New Englanders."