Snow Storm Hits America's Northeast

Amanda Walker, US Correspondent, in New York

America's Northeast has been hit by an epic winter storm bringing deep snow and high winds.

Overnight, New England fell under the wintry spell as it shrouded cities like Boston in deep snow, leaving many without power.

By early on Saturday, more than 47cm of snow had fallen in parts of central Connecticut, and more than 40cm covered parts of Mansfield, Massachusetts.

A nuclear power plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, automatically shot down due to the snow but regulators say there is no threat to public safety.

Across the region thousands of flights were cancelled leaving travellers stranded.

Canada was also hit hard with hazardous driving conditions leaving at least three people dead.

The storm is being blamed for at least four deaths in New York and Canada.

As the blizzard approached, few were taking any chances. In Massachusetts all traffic was banned from the roads. It is the first time the state has done this since the blizzard of 1978 which crippled the region.

"This is a storm of major proportions," Boston mayor Thomas Menino warned. "Stay off the roads. Stay home."

Air travel has also been thrown into chaos, with more than 4,300 flights cancelled so far.

The people of New York's Staten Island have learned not to underestimate the power of mother nature.

Many residents there are still without heating after last October's Hurricane Sandy. For them this latest storm has reopened old wounds as they try to rebuild their lives.

Throughout the northeast, more than 500,000 homes and businesses have lost electricity.

Across New York City, 1,700 ploughs were out as workers fought to clear the snow as it landed.

Undeterred shoppers struggled through the streets clinging to their soggy purchases.

One of them, Sarah Lister, told Sky News: "We expect the warnings where we're from in South Georgia but then you come up here and everyone's alarmed about it - so it really must be something to watch out for! But we're going to a Broadway show tonight."

The advice is clear - stay off the roads and keep indoors - but for many tourists the lure of Manhattan's bright lights was too tempting.

Canadian tourist Lynda Caruth said: "We're from Canada so we're used to storms - this is nothing to us, it's like a light flurry. We want to be somewhere warm and cosy so what better thing to do than see a Broadway show."

Paula Coutts, from Leeds, said: "We've been here a week and we were supposed to fly home tonight, but all the flights were cancelled.

"But we're enjoying the snow - we don't mind being out in it. They told us to stay in this morning but we've been out all day - it's not bothered us - we're hardy in England!"

The storm may be strong but for those affected - the small mercy is - it is expected to be brief.

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