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Major storm wallops US Northeast

Staff writers
February 9, 2013 — Huge storm blankets US Northeast with deep snow; more than 5,300 flights cancelled.

Never mind driving -- residents in the hardest-hit communities could barely leave their homes.
Never mind driving -- residents in the hardest-hit communities could barely leave their homes.

A howling storm across the U.S. Northeast left the New York-to-Boston corridor shrouded in up to a metre of snow Saturday, stranding drivers on highways overnight and piling up drifts so high that some homeowners couldn't open their doors. More than 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity.

Airlines cancelled more than 5,300 flights through Saturday. The three major airports serving New York City were allowing some flights to land Saturday morning. Boston's Logan Airport expected to reopen Saturday afternoon. Across the region, flights were expected to be back on close to normal schedules on Sunday. At least seven deaths were blamed on the storm, including three in Canada. 

The Boston fire department said an 11-year-old boy died of carbon monoxide poisoning Saturday after being overcome as he sat in a running car to keep warm while his father was shoveling snow.

The car exhaust pipe was covered by a snow bank, causing the fumes to collect in the vehicle. Around 27.9 centimetres fell in New York, but the city was "in great shape'' and "dodged a bullet,'' Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, predicting streets would be cleared by the end of the day. The New York region's three major airports were up and running again by late morning after shutting down the evening before. 

But hundreds of drivers had abandoned their vehicles on New York's Long Island, and even snowplows were getting stuck. Emergency workers used snowmobiles to try to reach stranded motorists, some of whom spent the night stuck in their cars.

Richard Ebbrecht got stuck six or seven times on the Long Island Expressway and other roads.

"There was a bunch of us Long Islanders. We were all helping each other, shovelling , pushing,'' he said. He finally gave up and spent the night in his car. At daybreak, he walked home.

Crews were preparing days in advance for the major winter storm.
Crews were preparing days in advance for the major winter storm.

"I could run my car and keep the heat on and listen to the radio a little bit,'' he said. "It was very icy under my car. That's why my car is still there.''

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut closed roads to all but essential traffic.

Some of the worst of the storm appeared to hit Connecticut, where even emergency responders found themselves stuck on highways all night.

Flooding was a concern along the coast, and some homes were evacuated in a couple of Massachusetts communities.

Amtrak said the New York-Boston train route would remain closed Saturday.

The wind-whipped snowstorm mercifully arrived at the start of a weekend, which meant fewer cars on the road and extra time for sanitation crews to clear the mess before commuters have to go back to work.

In southern Ontario, an 80-year-old woman collapsed while shovelling her driveway, and two men were killed in car crashes. One pedestrian was struck by a vehicle and killed Friday night in Connecticut, and a 23-year-old New York man plowing his driveway with a tractor went off the edge of the road and was killed, police in those states said.

The storm that hit the United States is still affecting Atlantic Canada. Tune in for our Storm Watch coverage, and download our Mobile apps for the best weather information when you're on the go. 

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