News / USA

Blizzard Shuts Down US Northeast

Neil Hodges uses a snow blower to clear drifting snow from in front of his home in Concord, N.H. on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013.
Neil Hodges uses a snow blower to clear drifting snow from in front of his home in Concord, N.H. on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013.
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Kent KleinCarolyn Weaver
Much of the northeastern United States, including the cities of New York and Boston, is digging out from a massive snowstorm, driven by hurricane-force wind gusts. 

The most severe blizzard in decades blasted New York and the six New England states Friday and Saturday, leaving vehicles stranded and residents without electricity.

At least four deaths in the U.S. have been blamed on the storm, and at least three in Canada.  Officials say conditions will remain dangerous as temperatures drop overnight. 

American Red Cross representative Donna Morrissey, speaking from Massachusetts, said her group has prepositioned supplies, units of blood and volunteers to serve people and soon as the storm passes. But for now, she is urging people to stay indoors. "I did see a plow come by, so they are starting to clear the roads, but it's still, in my opinion, very dangerous conditions out there and I wouldn't feel safe leaving here until some more time had passed," she said.

More than 700,000 homes and businesses in the region were without power, and officials say the lights may not be back on for several days.

Airports in New York and Boston were beginning to reopen on Saturday, after more than 5,000 flights were canceled.

New York City escaped the brunt of the blizzard, with only 30 centimeters of snow.  But on Long Island, hundreds of cars were stuck on the Long Island Expressway, some snowbound overnight.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Saturday urged people to stay off the roads. “I ask the people of the state to use consideration today.  If you really do not need to leave the house for an urgent matter, do not leave the house," he said.

New York’s neighbors, Massachusetts and Connecticut, were buried under even more snow.  Almost one meter of snow fell on the town of Milford, Connecticut.  In nearby Westport, a wind gust was clocked at 132 kilometers per hour.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick imposed a statewide ban on driving. “Make sure you have basic food supplies and medications at home.  And prepare for the possibility of being shut in and at home for the next 24 or 48 hours," he said.

States of emergency have been declared by the governors of Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine.

The storm caused flooding in several coastal towns along the northeastern Atlantic coast during high tide Saturday.  In Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Pilgrim nuclear power plant shut down after it lost electrical power.  Officials said it posed no danger.

Experts say this storm could be as severe as the blizzard of 1978, which shut down New England for days.

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