MANCHESTER, N.H. — A winter storm buried New England under more than a foot of wind-whipped snow, stranding travelers and knocking out power to thousands, but delighting vacationing school children and ski area operators who plan to take advantage of the white stuff during the holiday break.

With the storm’s timing – on school vacation – and with many states telling non-essential workers to stay home, snowplow drivers got a bit of a break. In Connecticut, state workers had a furlough day. In Boston, the financial district normally bustling with workers was nearly empty and roads coming into the city were wide open.

Airports in Boston, Portland, Maine, and Manchester, N.H., remained open but were largely deserted this morning, as flights throughout the country were disrupted by the massive East Coast blizzard. Logan spokesman Phil Orlandella said it would take days for the system to get back in sync – especially with the airports in New York and Newark still being closed.

In Portland, Jacob Holly and Rachelle Dugas from Moncton, New Brunswick, had hoped to fly to Florida for his mother’s birthday today. Instead, they sat in the near vacant passenger terminal at the Portland International Jetport as holiday music blared from the overhead speakers. They were told that they couldn’t fly out until Thursday.

Holly said there was no point in being angry about the situation. “These people can’t do anything about it,” he said gesturing to the airport workers. “There’s no need to be grumpy about it. You just try to make the best of it.”

In Manchester, transportation security workers stood idle at their posts, no passengers for them to screen.

Sitting alone at a table in the food court was Alicia Kinney, a 25-year-old mission worker from Columbus, Ohio. Her flight to Newark, N.J., was canceled, and Continental could not get her a confirmed seat until Wednesday. Kinney slept overnight on benches in the baggage claim area before moving up to the food court for a soda in the morning.

“I came at 4 p.m. (Sunday) and got a standby seat to Cleveland, but at the last minute, that flight was canceled. By then, it was too bad outside for my friends to come back and get me,” Kinney said. “It’s a funny situation. I’m trying to stay positive.”

Mike Meagher of Greensboro, N.C., was in a similar frame of mind as he sat in an otherwise deserted baggage claim area. The 69-year-old was heading home after a holiday visit with his daughter and granddaughter in Henniker.

Meagher arrived at 6 a.m. for a scheduled 2:50 p.m. departure, unclear if his flight would ever leave.
“I needed a ride to the airport, so I took whatever was available,” he said. “This is just a little stumble in the road.”

Tens of thousands of customers were without power today, as trees and branches succumbed to the weight of snow and high winds and took down power lines. In southern Maine, Central Maine Power Co. reported 2,921 of its customers were without power.

High seas and winds caused problems along the coast. In Scituate, Mass., south of Boston, a section of seawall was washed away. Two homes were flooded and later caught fire, but no injuries were reported.

At the Kennebunk Rest Area of the Maine Turnpike, Canadian trucker Wilfred Deveau spent the night waiting for the weather to clear. He was ordered off the road at about 10 p.m. Sunday by his employer. He’s hauling a load of French fries from New Brunswick to Pennsylvania.

Deveau said the storm hit all at once.

“It’s like you hit a wall – boom, you couldn’t see anything,” he said of the conditions before he got off the turnpike.

Police in Wells, Maine, said Richard Folsom, 59, of Wells, died several hours after his pickup crashed into a tree during whiteout conditions Sunday night.

David Sharp contributed from Portland, Maine. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press reporters Stephanie Reitz in Glastonbury, Conn., and Karen Testa and Mark Pratt in Boston.