NEW YORK — A winter storm that began with a whimper parked itself Friday over the Northeast, bringing hurricane-force winds, flooding and heavy snow as it cut power to more than a million homes and businesses.

In New York City, 17 inches (43 centimeters) of snow had fallen before dawn and more was expected. A man was killed by a falling snow-laden tree branch in Central Park, one of at least three deaths being blamed on the storm.

Most flights were canceled for the day at the three New York-area airports. But by late morning, things began clearing up to the south, with three of Philadelphia International Airport's four runways open.

Schools canceled classes in several states.

The storm brought a wide array of calamity over a broad area after getting a slow start Thursday, when snow began falling in the Philadelphia region around dawn but didn't start sticking to the ground until dusk.

It turned out that snow — 31 inches (79 centimeters) in Monroe, New York — was only part of the story, with high winds causing havoc.

The highest wind reported was 91 mph (146 kph) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire — well above hurricane force of 74 mph (119 kph). Gusts hit 60 mph (100 kph) or more from the mountains of West Virginia to New York's Long Island and Massachusetts.

In the coastal town of Hampton, New Hampshire, the unoccupied Surf Hotel caught fire, and the howling winds quickly spread the blaze to the rest of the block. Five wood-frame buildings, including an arcade and a restaurant, burned. The cause was unknown.

Utility officials said in New Hampshire said it would take days before everyone's lights flickered back on.

In Maine, waves crashing ashore at high tide Friday morning turned beachfront streets into rivers in Saco, where storms have claimed several homes over the years.

Much of the northeastern U.S., particularly Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, only recently finished cleaning up from a pair of storms a few weeks ago.

For parts of the region, snow remains in the forecast through Monday. (AP)