Surprise Storm Kills 12, Leaves Millions Without Power in Northeast

Rare October storm raged from West Virginia to Maine, creating dangerous conditions.

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BOSTON (Reuters) — Devastation from a rare and deadly October snowstorm lingered in the Northeast on Monday, leaving 2.2 million houses without power, closing schools, snarling the morning commute and postponing Halloween fun.

The storm that raged from West Virginia to Maine from Saturday until late Sunday was blamed for at least 12 deaths, most of them on slippery roads.

Many roads were still barricaded to steer traffic away from downed trees and power lines.

Ghoul and goblin decorations were blanketed with record snowfall for October in many places, such as 32 inches (81 cm) measured in the western Massachusetts town of Peru, according to the National Weather Service.

Utility officials said the storm caused more tree damage than most winter storms because leaves had not yet fallen so trees caught far more snowfall than usual.

"It was like wet cement that just adhered to trees, branches, leaves and power lines," said David Graves, spokesman for utility National Grid.

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"That's what really caused the damage, the weight of that snow," he said.

Across the Northeast, about 2.2 million customers remained without power on Monday.

Theo Brinkerhoff, 4, who planned to dress as a ghost on Monday but was forced to wear a heavy sweater and snow boots under his costume to keep warm, refused to believe it was the bewitching autumn holiday.

"It's not Halloween, because it's still winter," he said while visiting grandparents in Amherst, Massachusetts, a town still mostly in the dark.

DAYS BEFORE POWER BACK

It will likely be days before power is restored to all residents in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and other states hit hard by the storm.

Despite a sunny Monday, several New Jersey Transit train lines going into New York City remained suspended.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said 100 state roads were closed and about 200 more partially closed.

Connecticut was particularly hard hit and Malloy called the power outages in his state the worst in history. As residents escaped homes without heat and electricity, hotels in central Connecticut were sold out.

Snow days, usually not tapped until at least after Thanksgiving, were declared by scores of public schools that remained shut throughout the Northeast.

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While children were delighted with the surprise long weekend, their parents were advised that because of downed wires, Halloween trick-or-treat routines should be adjusted so children were home by dark and an adult accompanied them.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, the city asked parents, schools and neighbors to postpone Halloween celebrations until Thursday, when the weather was expected to be warmer and downed trees and power lines would likely be cleared.

The New Hampshire communities of Manchester and Nashua asked parents to put off trick or treating and reschedule the annual candy collection until Sunday, Nov. 6.

The massive outages include roughly 750,000 customers still without power on Monday in Connecticut; about 500,000 in Massachusetts; more than 360,000 in New Jersey; around 220,000 in Pennsylvania; about 128,000 in New York; about 195,000 in New Hampshire; about 21,000 in Maine and about 1,700 in Rhode Island.