You forgot to take something into account: People in the Northeast are used to snow. Lots of it. Some are better prepared than others, but nobody lives here thinking that it'll snow once every decade. 6 inches is nothing. Hell, 12 inches is a bad storm, but nothing to write home about.
The forecasters were going off about 3 feet, 36 inches, total. They also kept saying, from Monday afternoon to Wednesday, which is big, but certainly manageable, and far more manageable than say, a storm blowing by dumping 16 inches in an hour before leaving. Either somebody forgot to do the math, or they decided to pick up the 36 inches number and call for mass panic.
Yes, people should've gone home early and stayed off the highways. Yes, people should've prepared with extra dry food and water. But no, mass transit didn't need to be shut down. No, the roads didn't need to be closed. No, things shouldn't have been forcibly grinded down to a halt.
It was a disproportionate response for very little risk. The wind was a bigger cause for concern than the snowfall, but wind can't shut down mass transit and close off all the roads and create a big sensation that, if it panned out, would've paid off big for the media. But the way the news channels treated it, you would've thought everybody borrowed a page from CNN's playbook. Which is to say, they were completely irresponsible. Where's MH370 again?
And by your logic, you shouldn't go outside whenever there's a thunderstorm, because you might get hit by lightning. Or worse, you might get hit by the storm surge and be washed out to sea. Sorry, I don't buy it. You might enjoy cowering in fear every time something unusual (and this wasn't even unusual to boot) happens, but we're supposed to be pretty damn resiliant in the Northeast. And this response just smacks of cowardice to me.