A snowstorm that was supposed to leave 2 feet of snow dropped only a few inches in the western half of the state Monday and Tuesday, as municipal officials in the region breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Still, experts said the storm "was not an underperformer," and it did live up to expectations, albeit a little farther east than earlier predicted.

"Even as advanced as the computer models are, getting the track exactly correct can be a challenge," said Angela Fritz, a meteorologist who works for the Washington Post. "We're only talking about 30 to 40 miles here -- that's the difference between getting 6 inches or 30 inches."

John Murray of the National Weather Service's Upton, N.Y., center agreed, saying that the low-pressure system moved just east of a benchmark meteorologists used to ascertain the storm's track.

"With it tracking southeast of that benchmark and the tightening of that pressure gradient ... we were seeing those really heavy snow bands hit eastern Connecticut and eastern Long Island."

Meteorologist Bill Jacquemin of the Connecticut Weather Center said the worst bands of the storm, to the northwest of its center, hit eastern Connecticut. The storm's center, he said, passed even farther east, over Cape Cod.

"And, I really hate to break the news to you, but we could be in for another nor'easter Sunday night into Monday," Jacquemin said. "And a clipper system might give us a little snow before that, on Thursday."

The storm that hit Monday and Tuesday did contribute to one death in the area.

Police in Trumbull said an 80-year-old Oldfield Road man was shoveling snow at his home Tuesday morning when he collapsed in front of a family member.

Lt. Leonard Scinto said the man, whose name was not released by police, arrived at St. Vincent's Medical Center in cardiac arrest and was declared dead.

The storm had the potential to be much more deadly around Bridgeport, had it hit with the full force that was forecast.

Residual delays

As it was, for most people, the wind and snow were more inconvenient than dangerous. And many roads remain sloppy.

By Tuesday evening, several school districts announced delayed openings for Wednesday, including Bridgeport (90 minutes), Stratford (two hours), Greenwich (90 minutes), Milford (90 minutes), Newtown (two hours), Wilton (two hours), Trumbull (2 1/2 hours) and New Milford (two hours).

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy praised residents for heeding the driving ban that began at 9 p.m. Monday. The result, he said, was that there were only 15 crashes on state roads -- not many more than might be expected during a similar period in July.

"That is remarkable," the governor said, noting that during a usual snowstorm, several hundred collisions occur. "This one has worked because people of Connecticut have responded."

All state workers should return Wednesday morning, Malloy said.

In eastern parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut and in all of Rhode Island, The Associated Press reported that the storm was frightening in its intensity.

The storm punched out a 40- to-50-foot section of a seawall in Marshfield, Mass., badly damaging a vacant home. In Newport, R.I., it toppled a 110-foot replica of a Revolutionary War sailing vessel as the ship lay in drydock, breaking its mast and puncturing its hull.

The storm's relentlessness stunned even winter-hardened New Englanders, the AP said.

The Day of New London reported snow depths in the in the 2-foot range in places like Preston, East Lyme and Norwich. In New London County, the blizzard warning wasn't lifted until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Nantucket Island, where winds left the island completely in the dark, seemed to take the brunt of the low-pressure center, which generated winds in excess of 75 mph, even knocking out cellphone service there. Nantucket Hospital, running on emergency generators, reported delivering a "blizzard baby" at 3:53 a.m., a 6-pound, 5-ounce baby boy, according to the Boston Herald.

A glancing blow

Snowfall totals were only between 6 and 12 inches in lower Fairfield County, as the storm tracked to the east. And it was light, fluffy snow, fairly easy to push around.

In southwestern Connecticut, enterprising teenagers carrying shovels came out onto neighborhood streets, offering to dig out cars and driveways, and more small businesses reopened. Still, many business decided to call it a holiday, judging by the scores of darkened storefronts up and down the Boston Post Road.

There was no mail delivery in the state on Tuesday and post offices were closed, United States Postal Service officials said.

As the storm abated, cleanup intensified and the pavement was showing on many major local roads. Bridgeport residents were asked to move their vehicles to the odd-numbered side of the street at 11 a.m. so plows could continue to clear the streets. Parking was still banned on snow emergency routes.

Relatively few power outages were reported by either of the state's major electric utilities, United Illuminating Co. and Connecticut Light & Power. Officials said light, fluffy snow and the less-severe winds did not affect trees and power lines as much as ice would have.

Staff writers Amanda Cuda and Daniel Tepfer contributed to this story.