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Blizzard hammers US North-east

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AFP

A boy pulls a sled through a snowy Prospect Park in Brooklyn the morning after a massive snow storm on February 9, 2013 in New York City.

Boston/New York - A blizzard packing hurricane-force winds hammered the northeastern United States on Saturday, cutting power to 700 000 homes and businesses, shutting down travel and leaving at least nine people dead.

The mammoth storm that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic dumped more than 90cm of snow across the Northeast, the National Weather Service said.

Coastal blizzard and flood warnings were in effect, but Massachusetts and Connecticut lifted vehicle travel bans as the storm slowly moved eastward on Saturday evening.

Stratford, Connecticut, Mayor John Harkins said he had never seen such a heavy snowfall, with rates reaching 15cm an hour.

“Even the plows are getting stuck,” Harkins told local WTNH television.

The storm centred its fury on Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, with the highest snowfall total, 102 cm, in Hamden, Connecticut.

About 2 200 flights were cancelled on Saturday, for a total of more than 5 800 over the past two days, according to FlightAware, which tracks airline delays. A few hundred additional cancellations are possible for Sunday, it said.

Boston's Logan International Airport and Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, were shut down. Logan, hit by nearly 56cm of snow, was expected to reopen at least partly later on Saturday.

The storm dumped 74cm of snow on Portland, Maine, breaking a 1979 record, the weather service said. Winds gusted to 134km per hour at Cuttyhunk, New York, and brought down trees across the region.

The storm contributed to at least five deaths in Connecticut, according to Governor Dannel Malloy and police.

An 80-year-old woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver while clearing her driveway, and a 40-year-old man collapsed while shoveling snow. One man, 73, slipped outside his home and was found dead on Saturday, Malloy said.

A 53-year-old Bridgeport man was found dead in the snow Saturday morning outside his home, and a 49-year-old man died while shoveling snow in Shelton, police said.

Two people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in separate incidents in Boston. One of the victims was an 11-year-old boy who was overcome by fumes as he sat in an idling car to keep warm, a fire official said. The other victim was a man in his early 20s who was found unresponsive in his car, police said.

In Poughkeepsie, New York, a man in his 70s was struck and killed on a snowy roadway, local media reported. A 23-year-old man was killed in Germantown, New York, when the tractor he was using to plow his driveway rolled down an embankment, according to local media.

A 30-year-old motorist in New Hampshire died when his car went off the road, but the man's health might have been a factor in the accident, state authorities said.

Police in New York's Suffolk County, some using snowmobiles, rescued hundreds of motorists stuck overnight on the Long Island Expressway, said police spokesman Rich Glanzer.

Emergency medical services personnel in Worcester, Massachusetts, delivered a baby girl at her mother's home at about 3 a.m. on Saturday with the aid of National Guard soldiers.

Even as the big storm's force was slackening, the National Weather Service warned of blizzard conditions developing in the Great Plains on Saturday and continuing into Monday.

Snow and, in some areas, blizzard conditions were expected across parts of Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming, it said. A foot or more of snow is expected in some areas.

Utility companies reported about 700 000 customers without electricity across nine states as the wet, heavy snow brought down tree branches and power lines.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, lost power and shut down automatically late on Friday, but there was no threat to the public, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

In Boston, a National Hockey League game scheduled for Saturday between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins was cancelled because of the blizzard.

As the storm tapered off, streets in Cambridge, Massachusetts, were largely quiet except for snowblowers and shoveling. Kevin Tierney, 41, struggled with a snowblower to carve out a parking space in more than 60cm of snow.

“I had this all planned out, and I don't know who said it, but everybody goes into a boxing match with a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” said Tierney, an attorney.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine declared states of emergency before the storm. The US Postal Service suspended mail delivery in parts of those five states plus New Hampshire and Vermont.

Although New York was hit by 30cm of snow, Fashion Week went on unfazed as crowds arrived to watch the morning's shows by Ruffian and LaCoste.

Andrea Daney, a digital marketing senior manager for LaCoste, said she was trying to be discreet as she changed from snow boots to high-heeled crushed blue velvet ankle boots.

“I'm calling it the shoe storm of the century,” she said. “You have to make adjustments to your outfit.”

The snow delighted New England's ski industry after a dry winter that has left green grass visible across much of the region.

Greg Kwasnick, a spokesman for Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire, said business was slightly slower than normal on Saturday but likely would pick up in coming days as roads cleared.

“Snow is what it's all about,” he said. - Reuters


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