Source AP ©

Winter storm chooses US Northeast as another target

A winter storm raged in the U.S. Northeast on Thursday, while crews in the Plains and Midwest worked to restore power to hundreds of thousands of people left in the dark in its ice-coated wake.

Some parts of the Northeast could receive up to a foot of snow, forecasters said. Schools in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced closures, in some cases before flakes even began to fall.

Dozens of traffic accidents were reported on Connecticut roads.

The storm was blamed for 35 deaths, mostly in traffic accidents, as it moved through the middle of the country. In Oklahoma, where President George W. Bush issued an emergency disaster declaration, at least 315,000 homes and businesses still were without power Thursday, officials said. In Missouri, about 35,000 customers remained in the dark, said Al Butkus, spokesman for utility Aquila Inc.

Northeast airports were bracing for travel problems. At New York's airports, some airlines were allowing passengers to reschedule their flights free of charge. At Connecticut's largest airport, near Hartford, a dozen flights had been canceled as of 9 a.m., said John Wallace, an airport spokesman.

At Boston's Logan International Airport, air traffic was normal Thursday morning, but the airport expected airlines to cancel up to half of the afternoon's scheduled flights because of snow.

Sunshine and milder temperatures on Thursday should help cleanup efforts in much of the Plains, but another winter storm approaching from the west could dump heavy snow on parts of Oklahoma on Friday.

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