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Early snow pelts US East Coast

An unusually early and powerful snowstorm has struck the US East Coast, weighing down or toppling leafy trees and utility lines to knock out power to 2.3 million customers.

Communities inland were hit hardest, with eastern Pennsylvania serving as the bull's-eye for the storm, said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro.

Some places had more than 6ins of snow, and towns near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border saw 10ins fall. And New York City's Central Park set a record for both the date and the month of October with 1.3ins of snow by mid-afternoon and more falling.

More than 665,000 people were without power in New Jersey, including the governor, Chris Christie, who declared a state of emergency. Two hospitals that lost power were operating on generators.

Utilities in Connecticut reported more than 700,000 without power, while utilities in Pennsylvania said more than 560,000 are without power.

In Massachusetts, more than 485,000 were without electricity and. In New York, more than 260,000 have lost power. Western Maryland has more than 26,000 power cuts.

Throughout the region, officials had warned that the early storm would bring sticky snow on the heels of the week's warmer weather and could create dangerous conditions.

The storm disrupted travel along the Eastern Seaboard. Several airports had hours-long delays, including Philadelphia's and two that serve New York City, Newark Liberty and Kennedy. The smaller airport in Teterboro, New Jersey, was briefly closed.

Amtrak suspended passenger train services between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and commuter trains in Connecticut and New York were delayed or suspended because of downed trees and signal problems.

Residents were urged to avoid travel altogether while speed limits were reduced on bridges between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A few roads closed because of accidents and downed trees and power lines, and more were expected, said Sean Brown, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

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