PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The fierce weekend storm dropped record snowfall in places and stranded travelers along the East Coast from Virginia to New England, but its timing helped minimize commuters' headaches and left many with the prospect of a white Christmas.

Residents shoveling snow in front of their homes yesterday on the east side of Providence shrugged it off as a mild inconvenience that had the decency to come on a weekend.

"It's less of a disruption," said Chloe Kline, a 35-year-old musician. "I don't have to get out to go to school or work or anything like that."

Snowfall of 13.4 inches was recorded yesterday in Warwick, R.I.

To the south, others struggled with the aftermath of a storm that stranded hundreds of motorists in Virginia and knocked out power to thousands but that could have been much worse.

On the cusp of the winter solstice, 16 inches of snow fell Saturday on Reagan National Airport outside Washington, the most ever recorded there for a single December day.

Long Island socked

Around New York, the brunt of the storm hit Long Island, with whiteout conditions and 26.3 inches in Upton, a record since measurements began in 1949.

Nearly 11 inches of snow fell on New York City, and the storm could be the city's worst since 26 inches fell in February 2006, National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Maloit said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg encouraged residents and visitors to take advantage of travel cancellations by seeing a Broadway show. The mayor said city retailers were not hit hard because the snow held off until late Saturday.

Airports in the Northeast that were jammed up Saturday were working their way back to normal operations. About 1,200 flights at the New York City area's three major airports remained canceled despite clear conditions on the runways.

Two of the four runways at Dulles International Airport in Washington reopened yesterday, spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said. Reagan National reopened its main runway, which handles all commercial traffic.

Airports hampered

Baltimore-Washington airport struggled to get back up to full speed, with some airlines still canceling flights. At Boston's Logan airport, where it was still snowing yesterday morning, spokesman Phil Orlandella said flights had been "on and off." Today should be a normal day, he said.

Some states reported major power outages. An estimated 200,000 electric customers remained without power yesterday in West Virginia and Virginia.

In Washington, police investigated why a plainclothes officer drew a gun during a snowball fight organized on Twitter. Witness Lacy MacAuley told the Washington Post the fight was harmless fun until the officer arrived.

One person in Virginia was killed in a traffic accident, and authorities said the weather might have contributed to another traffic death there. A third death in Virginia is believed to have been caused by exposure.

In Ohio, two people were killed in accidents on snow-covered roads. In western North Carolina, a 52-year-old man was killed when his car slid down an embankment.

Greyhound shut down service Saturday in Washington, and ferry service in Delaware and New Jersey was canceled. Attractions such as the Smithsonian museums in Washington were closed Saturday and yesterday.