POSTED: Saturday, October 29, 2011 - 7:41pm
UPDATED: Saturday, October 29, 2011 - 7:42pm
NBC News New York —
A rare October snowstorm bore down on the heavily populated U.S. Northeast on Saturday, knocking out power to 1.7 million customers, delaying airline flights and threatening some areas with up to a foot of snow.
By 2 p.m. EDT, New York City had broken an October snow record with 1.3 inches in Central Park, making this the snowiest October there since records began being kept in 1869, NBC New York reported.
In a tweet, New York City officials said that all city parks were closed, citing the risk of falling trees.
Two storm-related deaths were reported. One in Colchester, Conn., where details were not available, and one in Springfield, Mass., where a motorist got out of a car and touched a guardrail electrified by a downed power line, according to Masslive.com.
Story: Snow cancels NY, Philly flights, makes road travel treacherous
Snow was coming down hard from central Pennsylvania to southeastern New York and Connecticut after hitting parts of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland earlier in the day. Newark, N.J., reported 3.8 inches by 6:06 p.m. EDT, and Harrisburg, Pa., had 5 inches.
But some places got more than half a foot of snow, and towns near the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line saw 10 inches fall.
More than 1.7 million customers lost power from Maryland north through Massachusetts, and utilities were bringing in crews from other states to help restore it. Half a million in New Jersey were without power, including Gov. Chris Christie, who lost electricity about 4 p.m.
Almost as many were in the dark in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut declared states of emergencies.
Christie told NBC New York that the hardest-hit parts of New Jersey were in the northern part of the state, including Sussex, Essex, Morris, and Bergen counties. He urged residents to stay off the roads, which will allow power companies to restore power much quicker.
"If you have power count your blessings," he told NBC New York. "And if you don't, find a place to stay warm."
See story and video at nbcnewyork.com
Officials had warned that the heavy, wet snow combined with fully leafed trees could lead to downed tree branches and power lines, resulting in power outages and blocked roads.
Delays were reported at Philadelphia International Airport and at New York area airports. At John F. Kennedy International Airport, some arrivals were delayed by more than four hours, and six hours at Newark Airport. One live flight tracking site, FlightAware, tweeted more than 1,000 flights had been cancelled nationwide.
Click here for more information and video from the storm:
Cherry Grove, W.Va., on the edge of the Monongahela National Forest, received at least 4 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.
Relatively warm water temperatures along the Atlantic seaboard could keep the snowfall totals much lower along the coast and in cities such as Boston, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson said, with 3 inches of snowfall forecast along the I-95 corridor.
While October snow is not unprecedented, this storm could be record-setting in terms of snow totals.
October snowfall records could be broken in parts of southern New England, especially at higher elevations, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson said. The October record for southern New England is 7.5 inches in Worcester in 1979.
Likely to see the most snow will be the Massachusetts Berkshires, the Litchfield Hills in northwestern Connecticut, southwestern New Hampshire and the southern Green Mountains. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy warned residents that they could lose power due to the anticipated wet, heavy snow.
Big day for snowball
The snow also threatened traffic problems for 100,000 college football fans at a game in State