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The scene in New York City's Times Square Dec. 16. The NWS warns storm totals "may approach two feet across the Poconos of Eastern Pennsylvania and Catskills of southern New York." Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

At least three people have died as a monster snowstorm that's left over 60 million people under winter weather alerts pummels the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

The big picture: The National Weather Service warned the storm would cause "major" travel disruption and power outages. 6.5 inches of snow and sleet fell over New York's Central Park by midnight — exceeding the total for last winter, when 4.8 inches fell. Boston was set to get hit with up to 12 inches of snow by Thursday morning.

A snowstorm develops at the U.S. Capitol Dec. 16 — part of the storm system known as "Winter Storm Gail." The NWS issued alerts for Dec. 17 across an area stretching nearly 1,000 miles, from northern Georgia to New England. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
A street in Wilkes Barre, Pa., Dec. 16, when State Police said two people had died in a multi-vehicle crash on a road in Clinton County. Virginia saw some 200 crashes Dec. 16, with one fatality, the New York Times notes. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images
A snowplow at Cliffside Park, N.J., on Dec. 16. As well as causing chaos on the roads, the snow has forced hundreds of flights and rail services to be canceled or suspended, the New York Times reports. Photo: Islam Dogru/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A road in West Reading, Pa., Dec. 16. The storm is expected to dump snow totals "in excess of 12 inches" from central Pennsylvania to southern New York and southern New England by Thursday morning, the NWS said. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images
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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Updated May 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Off the rails: Episode library

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The first line of the Axios Manifesto is "Audience First." That's why we created our unique Smart Brevity style to get you smarter, faster, on topics that matter. But it also means we won't shy away from important stories that are worthy of more detail and more of your time, like our Deep Dives, Axios Investigates and now this deeply reported series, "Off the rails.” 

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.