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Rare October snowstorm pelts US Northeast

world Updated: Oct 29, 2011 22:59 IST

A rare October snowstorm bore down on the heavily populated US Northeast on Saturday, with some areas bracing for up to a foot (30 cm) of snow and major power outages.

In Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia, more than 44,000 customers were without power, the utility Allegheny Power said. Hour-long flight delays were reported at Philadelphia International Airport.

The snow threatened traffic problems for 100,000 college football fans at a game in State College, Pennsylvania between Penn State and the University of Illinois.

By midday, there were a few flakes in parts of New Jersey and New York.

"It's a strong storm for October," said AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Paul Walker.

"We don't usually see storms this deep and this strong."

While October snow is not unprecedented, this storm -- starting as rain and changing to snow as temperatures drop -- could set records.

Hartford, Connecticut, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Worcester, Massachusetts were among the cities that could get up to a foot of snow, forecasters said.

Allentown typically sees its first measurable snow around Dec 5, The Weather Channel said. Boston generally sees snow around the end of November, while New York City and Philadelphia usually get their first flakes in mid-December.

Major coastal cities are not likely to be spared by this weekend's storm, meteorologists said.

New York could see four inches (10 cm) of snow, tapering off on Saturday night, The Weather Channel said. In Boston, afternoon rain will turn to snow overnight, bringing up to three inches.

Wind gusts along the coast could reach 45 miles per hour (72 km per hour), compounding the likelihood of fallen tree limbs and downed power lines.