- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2011

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (AP) — Millions of people from Maine to Maryland were without power as an unseasonably early storm dumped heavy, wet snow over the weekend on a region more used to gaping at leaves in October than shoveling snow.

The snow was due to stop falling in New England late Sunday, but it could be days before many of the more than 3 million without electricity see it restored, officials warned. The storm smashed record snowfall totals for October, and several officials called its ferocity historic.

At least three deaths were blamed on the weather, and states of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.

The storm worsened as it moved north, and communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit. Snowfall totals topped 27 inches in Plainfield, and nearby Windsor had received 26 inches by early Sunday.

“Look at this, look at all the damage,” said Jennifer Burckson, 49, after she came outside Sunday morning in South Windsor to find that a massive tree branch had smashed her car’s back windshield. Trees in the neighborhood were snapped in half, with others weighed down so much that the leaves brushed the snow.

Compounding the storm’s impact were still-leafy trees, which gave the snow something to hang onto, and snow put tremendous weight on branches, said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro. The weight led to limbs breaking off and contributed to the widespread outages.

“We can’t even use the snow blower because the snow is so heavy,” Ms. Burckson said.

The 750,000 who lost power in Connecticut broke a record for the state that was set when the remnants of Hurricane Irene hit in August. People could be without electricity for as long as a week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.

This outage will be worse than one caused by Irene, said Peter Bloom, 70, of South Windsor, because he relies on electricity to heat his home.

“I’m going to put another blanket on. What else can I do?” he said as he gassed up a snow blower to clear his driveway. “At least I’ll save a few bucks on my electric bill.”

The severity of the storm caught many by surprise, and it disrupted Halloween plans, too.

Sharon Martovich of Southbury, Conn., who was grocery shopping Sunday morning in nearby Newtown at one of the few businesses open for miles, said she’s hoping the power will come back on in time for her husband’s Halloween tradition of playing “Young Frankenstein” on a giant screen in front of their house.

“We would be really sad and it would disappoint a lot of people if we can’t play ‘Young Frankenstein,’” she said. But no matter what, they will make sure the eight or so children who live in the neighborhood don’t miss out on trick-or-treating.

“Either way, we will get the giant flashlights, and we will go,” she said.

She already was making the best of the outage. After her power went out at about 4 p.m. Saturday, she invited neighbors over for an impromptu Halloween party with wine and quesadillas in front of her propane fireplace.

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