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December 26, 2010

Blizzard Slams US Northeast; Travel in Disarray

Travelers affected by an early winter blizzard are camped out at airports in the northeast United States, waiting to get home after thousands of flights were canceled Sunday and Monday by the snow.

The storm disrupted air, rail and road traffic as it brought up to 50 centimeters of snow and gale-force winds on New York City and Boston, thwarting the plans of travelers attempting to return home after the Christmas holiday.

Passenger rail service, normally an alternative when bad weather grounds flights, was suspended between New York and Boston. Many inter-city bus carriers shut down routes between Boston and the nation's capital.

The storm knocked out the power supply to tens of thousands of homes in the northeast.

Governors of several eastern states, including Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, declared states of emergency to mobilize extra resources in response to the storm.

National Football League officials made the rare move of postponing until Tuesday an outdoor game scheduled for Sunday in Philadelphia.

The weather deterred some Americans from returning to shopping malls to take advantage of post-holiday sales or to return unwanted Christmas gifts.

Travel difficulties began on Saturday in parts of the southeastern U.S. It was the first "white Christmas" for the southern cities of Atlanta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina since the late 1800s.

The National Weather Service says the storm was a result of a large low-pressure system off the North Carolina coast that strengthened as it moved northeast.