Snow storms sweep across US

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The Independent US

Blizzards have hit the north-east and mid-west of the US. Hundreds of flights were cancelled at the New York City area's three major airports and in Albany, Boston, Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

In New Jersey, a corporate jet veered off a runway while landing, officials said. None of the nine people on board were hurt, but Teterboro Airport closed for more than two hours.

At least 13 deaths were blamed on the huge storms.

The bad weather forced the closing of schools and businesses from Kentucky to Maine. Many of those stuck at home had no heat or lights because of blackouts that affected more than a quarter-million customers.

Blizzard warnings were posted for parts of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine, where as much as 2 feet of snow was possible. Some areas reported more than 3 feet.

The storm's cold, snow, sleet and rain made life difficult for Valentine's Day messengers.

"Cold. Slippery. Nobody has their sidewalks sanded," said Caroline Roggero at Rose Petal Florist in Newport, R.I. "They all want their delivery today."

The storm was a convenient excuse for husbands and boyfriends who forgot to send flowers.

Some delivery drivers got stuck on the roads. Flowers delivered to offices were turned away because the businesses were closed.

Vermont's state government ordered all nonessential employees home after noon, the New York Capitol in Albany came to a near-halt, and some Pennsylvania state workers were told to stay at home. Maine's governor declared a state of emergency to ensure deliveries of heating oil, and New York's governor activated the National Guard.

Parts of Vermont received up to 26 inches, prompting state officials to order some vehicles off roads.

In upstate New York, more than 3 feet of snow fell in Herkimer County in the Adirondacks. But the brunt of the storm bypassed towns near the east end of Lake Ontario that had been buried by 10 feet and more of lake-effect snow over the past week.

In the Midwest, Springfield, Illinois, got 16 inches of snow, and stiff wind piled the snow into drifts as high as 9 feet in parts of Indiana.

About 300,000 customers lost power in Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Kentucky, Indiana, New York's Long Island and the District of Columbia.

The huge weather system was blamed for three deaths in Nebraska; two each in Indiana, New Jersey and Delaware; and one each in Missouri, Ohio and Virginia.

A tornado on the southern side of the huge weather system killed one person in Louisiana.