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Early snowstorms hit US northeast

USA, Oct 31 (): An unseasonal snowstorm slammed the US East Coast on Saturday, disrupting air travel and leaving number of homes and businesses without electricity. The authorities say at least six people have died in snow-related accidents.

Freezing conditions hit the US East Coast on Sunday after a rare October snowstorm and icy rain. Some areas of Massachusetts is seeing more than 27in (68cm) of snow.

More than three million homes have lost their electricity supply from Maryland to Massachusetts – some residents have been warned they may be without power for several days.

The snowfall eased on Sunday, as the storm headed north from Maine. It had worsened as it moved north, with states of emergency declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York. Communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit.

Snow had begun accumulating in New York city by early afternoon Saturday, according to media reports. The heaviest snowfall was expected overnight in Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut. Authorities warned that the wet, heavy snow could bring down tree limbs and power lines. The storm was even more damaging because leaves still on the trees caught more of the particularly wet and heavy snow, overloading branches that snapped and wreaked havoc.

Residents were urged to avoid travel altogether. Speed limits were reduced on bridges between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In Manhattan, where the storm marked the first October snow in decades, forecasters said up to 10 inches could fall.

The “historic early season” snowstorm wrought havoc on air, rail and road traffic from Washington to Boston, with the National Weather Service warning that travel at night would be “extremely hazardous.”

The unseasonably early winter storm, known as a “nor’easter” due to its north-easterly movement, was being called “Snowtober”. It broke an October snow record that had stood since 1969 for New York’s Central Park which was blanketed in 2.9 inches of snow. It was the first time the park had seen more than an inch of snow before Halloween. Only three other snowy October days have been recorded in the park in 135 years of record-keeping.

At the White House, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle did not let the weather ruin their annual Halloween trick-or-treating event. They handed out candy, cookies and dried fruit to area children wrapped in wet coats.

“Let’s give out some candy,” Obama said. “I know it’s cold. … It’s not ideal out here.”