Freak snowstorm cuts power to millions

A freak October snowstorm in the United States knocked out power to more than 3.1 million homes and businesses across the northeast, with 60cm of snow falling in some areas at the weekend.

The storm was even more damaging because leaves still on the trees caught more of the heavy snow, overloading branches that snapped and wreaked havoc.

“You just have absolute tree carnage with this heavy snow just straining the branches,” said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro.

From Maryland to Maine, officials said it would take days to restore electricity. The storm smashed record snowfall totals for October and worsened as it moved north.

Communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit. Snowfall totals topped 68.6cm in Plainfield, and nearby Windsor had 66cm.

The storm was blamed for at least nine deaths, and states of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.

Roads, railways and airline flights were knocked out, and passengers on a JetBlue flight were stuck on a plane in Hartford, Connecticut, for more than seven hours.

More than 800,000 power customers were without electricity in Connecticut alone, shattering the record set in August by Hurricane Irene.

Massachusetts had more than 670,000 outages, and New Jersey more than 600,000. Parts of Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland and Vermont were also without power.

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