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Winter storm blasts Northeast with 3 feet of snow, leading to 7 deaths

Tens of thousands were without power and there were hundreds of car accidents due to the storm.

Large parts of the eastern United States woke Thursday to more than 3 feet of snow as a major winter storm hit parts of New York and Pennsylvania, led to hundreds of car accidents and is suspected in the deaths of at least seven people.

By morning, more than 40 inches had fallen in the New York cities of Binghamton and Endicott and in Litchfield, Pennsylvania.

More than 10 inches of snow and sleet covered New York's Central Park as of morning, surpassing the 4.8 inches that fell all last winter, the National Weather Service said. Lanes on the Henry Hudson Bridge were closed after a 19-car collision amid the storm, according to the NYPD, which urged people to stay home.

As of Thursday evening, there were still more that 25,000 power outages along the East Coast, according to

Nearly 10,000 customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were without power as of Thursday morning, but reduced to about 2,387 later in the day as services were restored in the tri-state area. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo attributed two deaths in the state to the storm, but did not provide further details on the deaths.

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A crash on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania's Clinton County involving dozens of vehicles killed two people, and a one-vehicle crash in Snyder County killed the driver who "lost control in snowy conditions," according to police.

One Pennsylvania man died after he was struck by a municipal snowplow in North Versailles on Tuesday evening. Another man "lost control" of his vehicle and died in Snyder County, authorities said.

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As the storm swept north Wednesday, Virginia State Police responded to approximately 200 crashes and 125 disabled or stuck vehicles. One of those crashes in Pulaski County killed a 19-year-old North Carolina man, a police spokeswoman said.

More than 15,000 homes were without power in Virginia and another estimated 5,300 in Maine following the storm on Thursday.

"We're obviously asking people to stay off the roads," Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, which was forecast to get a foot or more of snow, said Wednesday.

Boston got nearly 7 inches of snow as of Thursday morning, and lingering snow showers should taper off later in the day, said Torry Gaucher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Image: Pennsylvania snow shovel
A crew from BZ Pools in Johnstown, Pa., work on shoveling the sidewalks for several of their Johnstown clients at the start of winter storm Gail on Dec. 16, 2020.Todd Berkey / The Tribune-Democrat via AP

The storm had tens of millions of Americans under winter weather alerts just as the nation deals with growing Covid-19 numbers and the start of vaccine distribution.

"Our theme today probably ought to be: If it's not one thing, it's another," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday morning. He declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm and closed state offices Wednesday afternoon.

Parts of central Pennsylvania were hit hard Wednesday, with the National Weather Service in State College measuring 12.5 inches at its office by 11 p.m. and noting that the site had recorded 13.5 inches all of last winter.

A foot of snow had been recorded in Lock Haven as of 9 p.m. Wednesday, and spotters reported 13 inches in parts of Centre County, the weather service said.

Video posted by the emergency services of Collier Township, just west of Pittsburgh, showed a truck running directly into a response vehicle as a crew was attending to a car accident.

"This is a reminder to please SLOW DOWN and use CAUTION not only in this weather, but ALL the time," the post said. "Two of our members were almost struck during this incident, please be careful."

A foot or more of snow was also forecast in southern Maine and New Hampshire, the weather service said.

CORRECTION (Dec. 17, 2020, 9:25 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of the governor of Massachusetts. He is Charlie Baker, not Barker.