NEW YORK – The US northeast began Tuesday to shake off the icy grip of one of the biggest blizzards in years, but beleaguered travelers faced at least another day of headaches in New York airports.

After one last night of ferocious winds, the storm had moved fully out of New York by early Tuesday. The system, packing enormous snowfalls and gales, churned up through Maine and into Canada, leaving a cold tail as far south down the US east coast as the Carolinas.

The lifting of the siege meant that New York, the hardest hit area in the blizzard beginning Sunday, could finally start getting back to normal.

Snow plows and salt spreaders were hard at work before dawn in Manhattan, battling through knee-high snow in many streets.

But officials expected it would take several days to get New York and the all-important transport hubs back fully on track following the sixth heaviest snowfall in city history.

The three major airports of John F. Kennedy International, La Guardia and Newark International in New Jersey reopened late Monday, but cancellation of more than 5,000 flights meant a huge backlog and more delays.

Arriving flights at Newark were experiencing delays of an average of eight hours on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said. At JFK, delays for arriving flights averaged five and a half hours.

Operations at La Guardia were reported closer to normal.

Continental said that operations in New York and Newark remained disrupted.

"On December 28, we will attempt to resume flights as the operation permits. Some arrivals will be postponed in the morning and early afternoon hours to assist with the operation."