Schools were closed from Virginia to Maine and the federal government opened two hours late in Washington, but financial markets in New York opened at their normal times.
In New York City, more than 1 million schoolchildren got the day off and most morning flights in the region's airports were canceled, authorities said.
In Boston, where hundreds of flights were canceled and schools closed, the Federal Reserve was operating with just essential staff, a spokesman said.
In Washington, the federal government allowed workers to use unscheduled leave as commuters coped with up to 10 inches of snow in the worst winter storm in several years.
More than 314,000 homes and businesses were without power from Georgia to Virginia, local power companies said.
Gusting winds of up to 40 mph complicated efforts to keep roads and runways clear. Airline travelers faced canceled flights or significant delays, a spokeswoman for the Washington region's airports said.
More than 200 flights were canceled at the Philadelphia airport, where 44 stranded passengers were forced to bed down on the evening of March 1, an official said.