The Associated Press

The worst blizzard in seven years shut down much of the Northeast on Presidents Day with blinding, windblown snow that piled up as much as 4 feet deep and left more than a quarter of a million homes and businesses shivering without power.

At least 21 deaths had been blamed on the storm system since it charged out of the Plains during the weekend, piling snow in the Ohio Valley, producing mudslides and floods in the southern Appalachians, and making layers of ice that snapped trees and power lines.

The storm was headed for New England, where Massachusetts expected up to 2 feet of snow and minor coastal flooding.

Airports for Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York largely shut down, stranding thousands of passengers trying to leave and get into the region.

Amtrak’s north-south service was halted between Washington and Richmond, Va., and regional bus service stopped in many areas.

The holiday meant there were few commuters, but police from Kentucky to Massachusetts pleaded with motorists to stay home and some counties banned nonessential travel so they could clear the roads.

“This is going to be days worth of cleanup,” said Maryland Highway Administration spokesman David Buck.

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