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3 die as snow, wind, rain slam Northeast

Water rushes over a car as people try to tow it to safety Friday in Saco, Maine. Parts of Maine got more than 8 inches of rain. 

Associated Press

Water rushes over a car as people try to tow it to safety Friday in Saco, Maine. Parts of Maine got more than 8 inches of rain. 

ALBANY, N.Y. — A slow-moving winter storm smacked the Northeast on Friday, unleashing heavy snow, rain and hurricane-force winds as it knocked out power to more than a million homes and businesses. Three deaths were blamed on the storm, including one in New York's Central Park.

Every form of travel was miserable, if not impossible. More than 1,000 flights were canceled, bus service across northern New Jersey was knocked out, and roads from Ohio to West Virginia to Maine were closed. State troopers used snowmobiles to reach motorists stranded for hours on an eastern New York highway.

"We're buried," said Graham Foster, highway superintendent in the town of Wappinger, one of the hardest-hit areas in upstate New York. "My men have been out since 7 (a.m. Thursday), and we're not making much headway because there are so many trees down and wires down."

Power failures were so severe and widespread in New Hampshire — 340,000 of the state's roughly 800,000 customers — that even the state Emergency Operations Center was operating on a generator.

At the peak of the outages early Friday, there were 260,000 customers without power in Connecticut and 220,000 in New York, mostly in the Hudson Valley north of New York City. There were 140,000 in Maine, 100,000 in Massachusetts, 25,000 in Vermont and 11,000 in New Jersey. Those numbers began falling Friday as crews got to work.

It was wind and rain rather than snow that wreaked havoc in some states. Parts of southern Maine received more than 8 inches of rain that turned beachfront streets into rivers.

Areas to the south, meanwhile, got their third heavy dumping of snow this month. Monroe, N.Y., received 31 inches, and New York City got more than 20.

Friday's storm made February the snowiest month ever for New Brunswick, N.J.; it has gotten 37 inches so far. This had already been the snowiest winter for Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J., before the latest storm dropped another 4 to 5 inches by midmorning Friday.

The highest wind reported was 91 mph off Portsmouth, N.H. — well above the hurricane force of 74 mph. Gusts also hit 60 mph or more from the mountains of West Virginia to New York's Long Island and Massachusetts.

Thousands of schools were closed, and about 1,000 flights were canceled in Boston, Philadelphia and the New York area, according to the Air Transport Association. But by late morning, things began clearing up to the south, with three of Philadelphia International Airport's four runways open.

3 die as snow, wind, rain slam Northeast 02/26/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 26, 2010 10:33pm]
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