- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2011

SOUTH WINDSOR, CONN. — Millions of people from Maine to Maryland were without power as an unseasonably early nor’easter 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 Halloween will likely come and go before many of the more than 3 million without electricity see it restored, officials warned. Several referred to the combination of the storm’s early arrival and its ferocity as historic, yet another unwelcome superlative for weather-weary Northeasterners.

“You had this storm, you had Hurricane Irene, you had the flooding last spring and you had the nasty storms last winter,” Tom Jacobsen said Sunday while getting coffee at a convenience store in Hamilton Township, N.J. “I’m starting to think we really ticked off Mother Nature somehow, because we’ve been getting spanked by her for about a year now.”

The storm smashed record snowfall totals for October and worsened as it moved north. Communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit. Snowfall totals topped 27 inches in Plainfield, and nearby Windsor had gotten 26 inches by early Sunday. It was blamed for at least three deaths, and states of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.

“Look at this. Look at all the damage,” said Jennifer Burckson, 49, after she came outside Sunday morning in South Windsor to find 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 that put tremendous weight on branches, said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro. That led to limbs breaking off and contributed to the widespread outages.

“This is not going to be a quick fix,” said Peter Judge, a Massachusetts emergency-management official.

The 750,000 who lost power in Connecticut broke a record for the state that was set when the remnants of Hurricane Irene hit the state in August, said Gov. Dan Malloy.

This outage will be worse than the one caused by Hurricane 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 snowblower to clear his driveway. “At least I’ll save a few bucks on my electric bill.”

Along the coast and in such cities as Boston, relatively warm water temperatures helped keep snowfall totals much lower. Washington received a trace of snow, tying a 1925 record for the date. New York City’s Central Park set a record for both the date and the month of October with 1.3 inches of snow.

But in New Hampshire’s capital of Concord, more than 22 inches fell, weeks ahead of the usual first measurable snowfall. Trees downtown still bright with fall colors were covered with snow. Some didn’t survive — a large oak tree that had stood alongside the Statehouse fell, partially blocking a side street.

By 8 a.m., Dave Whitcher had already been clearing dozens of parking lots around town for eight hours as part of his work as a property manager. Holding up his shovel, he said, “Me and this guy are going to get to know each other real well today.”