A powerful winter storm spread more than a half-foot of snow across parts of the Northeast on Wednesday, closing hundreds of schools and switching off the lights for thousands of homes and businesses.
The Maine Legislature called off its session for the day and federal agencies opened two hours late in Washington. The Army's Fort Drum in northern New York state canceled all outdoor physical fitness training.
The National Weather Service reported 10 inches of snow in Maine at Auburn and Lisbon Falls, 8.5 inches at Fitchburg, Mass., and up to 6 inches in eastern New York state, where ice was up to a half-inch thick. Winter storm warnings remained in effect for much of New England and northern New York state, along with flood warnings in wide areas as heavy rain combined with melting snow.
Combined snow and sleet accumulations could reach a foot in parts of northern New York, the weather service said.
The storm system had been blamed for at least 15 deaths since Monday.
Barreling across the region
The storm pummeled much of the Ohio Valley with ice and snow on Tuesday as it followed a northeasterly track toward New England. Precipitation in New England started as snow, changed over to sleet and freezing rain, and was expected to change completely to rain during the day. Farther south, rain soaked the Eastern Seaboard from North Carolina to the New York metropolitan area.
"I guess we wouldn't be here (the Northeast) if it bothered us," Peter Rossi said as he had breakfast in Albany, N.Y. "The big deal with the weather like this is the other guy you have to watch out for on the roads. Everyone's got a different driving style."
Utilities reported power outages that affected as many as 20,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey, more than 8,000 in New York's Hudson Valley, about 21,000 in Connecticut, more than 5,400 in West Virginia, 2,500 in Maine and more than 27,000 in Maryland. More than 10,000 customers still had no power Wednesday in southwest Missouri, where the ice struck on Monday.
"This snow may be heavy and sticky, and after the changeover there could be significant icing in some areas — this kind of weather can be hard on our system," said Central Maine Power Co. spokesman John Carroll.
Storms snarled flights and bus services
Many flights in and out of Portland International Jetport were canceled Wednesday morning, and bus services reported cancellations and delays. Philadelphia International Airport reported numerous cancellations and delays, and ice and freezing rain shut down Connecticut's Bradley International Airport at Hartford for nearly five hours during the morning.
Weather-related delays averaged nearly five hours during the morning at the New York area's La Guardia Airport and nearly three hours at Newark International Airport, said Arlene Salac-Murray, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Three buildings collapsed under the weight of the wet snow in New Hampshire, but no injuries were reported.
The storm was adding to this winter's already impressive snowfall totals in Maine. Through Tuesday, Portland had received 71.5 inches, far above the 43.6 inch average for the date, the weather service said. Last year at this time, only 15.7 inches had fallen in Portland. In far northern Maine, more than 125 inches of snow has fallen this season at Caribou.
The storm system had been blamed for one death in Louisiana, one in New Jersey, three in Kentucky, two in Missouri on Monday, six in West Virginia, one in New York state and one in Pennsylvania.