The northeast began to shake off the icy grip of one of the biggest blizzards in years, but frustrations have hardly melted away for beleaguered air travelers who face continuing delays.
The system, packing enormous snowfalls and gales, has thoroughly moved out of New York, churned up through Maine and into Canada, leaving a snowy cold tail as far south down the East Coast as the Carolinas and Georgia.
The lifting of the siege meant that New York, the area hardest hit by the blizzard beginning Sunday, could finally begin getting back to normal.
Snow plows and salt spreaders were hard at work before dawn in Manhattan battling through knee-high snow in many streets.
Yet officials expect it will take several days for New York and its all-important transport hubs to be fully back on track following the sixth heaviest snowfall in city history.
"We know that many streets still have not been plowed — and I saw that myself, yesterday, when I was visiting small businesses in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a press conference.
He said the storm's ferocity created unprecedented challenges, especially cleaning out the mountains of snow left behind.
"Anyone who's been outside recently can see that this storm is not like any other we've had to deal with," said Bloomberg.
New York police have removed some 1,000 vehicles from just three busily trafficked thoroughfares, a fraction of the stalled vehicles stranded on city roads.
The three major area airports — John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Newark International in New Jersey — reopened late Monday, but the cancellations of over 5,000 flights meant a huge backlog and more delays.
"With all the cancellations and delays, it'll be two to three days before the airlines are at a regular schedule," said Thomas Bosco, LaGuardia's general manager.
A spokeswoman at the New York Port Authority, the office that manages regional airports and transit, told AFP that 94 flights had been canceled at La Guardia, 281 canceled at JFK, and 423 canceled at Newark.
That was an improvement over Sunday and Monday, but the backlog has affected arriving flights. Late Tuesday, weather-related delays of more than five hours for arriving flights were reported by JFK, and similar delays of three hours by Newark airport.
Conditions remained grueling for ground commuters, with bus, subway and train lines still snarled.
"There continue to be major delays and in some cases suspensions in service across our transportation network," New York's Metropolitan Transport Authority said.
Passengers clogged airports, overnighting in bright-lit terminals or queueing for hours in the hopes of changing dashed bookings. Many complained of phoning airlines, but nobody answering the calls.
Julie Stratton was scheduled to fly to Indianapolis, Indiana, from New York on Sunday, but wound up sleeping at LaGuardia. She said that on Monday she was told she might be stuck until Thursday.
"It's not the best of scenarios, no," Stratton told CNN. "But you just have to make the best of it. There's nothing else you can do."
Bloomberg seemed to want to consign the storm to history and move on.
"We will make mistakes, but we have to continue plugging ahead. Yelling about it and complaining doesn't help," he said.
Passengers could only hope for better service than on Monday, when many found themselves at wind-blasted bus stops with no buses in sight, or in stricken subway cars, as they tried to get to work or home.
The rescue services often faced similar problems, as scores of police cars, ambulances, and tow trucks also got stuck in snow and ice.
In eastern Canada, officials said more than 12,000 homes were left without power and flights were severely disrupted at Toronto and Montreal airports.
The storm was generally considered to be a bonanza for area ski resorts, some of which saw more than two feet (61 centimeters) of powder fall on their trails.
But conditions turned treacherous at Maine's Sugarloaf Mountain ski resort, where several people were injured after high winds caused various ski lift chairs to derail.
Reports said injured skiers were being treated at area hospitals.