Fishing boats ride out the storm at dock in Scituate, Mass., on Jan. 27, 2015.
Michael Dwyer—AP
January 27, 2015 7:13 AM EST

Up to four inches of snow an hour fell in parts of the Northeast early Tuesday as tens of millions of people hunkered down for a historic blizzard that shut down travel — but New York City and Philadelphia escaped the worst of the weather.

New England was braced for two or even three feet of snow, whipped by near-hurricane force winds that created almost whiteout conditions and threatened coastal flooding.

However, a blizzard warning was downgraded to a winter storm alert in all but one county of New York early Tuesday.

As winds combined with high tides, a storm surge. . .

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