US Snow Storm Heads East After Hitting Midwest

A winter storm that has killed more than a dozen people across the eastern half of the United States plodded across the Northeast on Thursday, trapping airliners in snow or mud and frustrating travellers still trying to return home after Christmas.

The storm, which was blamed for at least 16 deaths farther south and west, brought plenty of wind, rain and snow to the Northeast when it blew in Wednesday night.

Lights generally remained on and cars mostly stayed on the road, unlike many harder-hit places including the southern state of Arkansas, where 200,000 homes and businesses lost power.

By afternoon, the precipitation had stopped in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, though snow continued to fall in upstate New York and northern New England.

Parts of snow-savvy New Hampshire expected as much as 18 inches (450 millimetres).

The Northeast's heaviest snowfall was expected to be in northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and inland sections of several New England states before the storm heads into Canada on Friday, National Weather Service spokesman David Roth said.

While the East Coast's largest cities - New York, Philadelphia and Boston - saw mostly high winds and cold rain, other areas experienced a messy mix of rain and snow that slowed commuters and those still heading home from holiday trips.

Some inbound flights were delayed in Philadelphia and New York's LaGuardia, but the weather was not leading to delays at other major East Coast airports.

On New York's Long Island, a Southwest Airlines jet bound for Tampa, Florida, veered off a taxiway and got stuck in mud Thursday morning.

Officials said there were no injuries to the 129 passengers and five crew members. Though the area received heavy rain overnight, Southwest spokesman Paul Flanigan said it was not clear whether that played a role.

In Pittsburgh, a flight that landed safely during the storm Wednesday night got stuck in several inches of snow on the tarmac about two hours.

Earlier, the storm system spawned tornadoes on Christmas along the Gulf Coast.

Deaths from wind-toppled trees also were reported in Texas and Louisiana, but car crashes caused most of the fatalities.

Two people were killed in Kentucky crashes, a New York man was killed after his pickup truck skidded on an icy road in northwest Pennsylvania, and an Ohio teenager died after losing control of her car and smashing into an oncoming snowplow.

In Arkansas, where two people died in a head-on collision, some of those who lost electricity could be without it for as long as a week because of snapped poles and wires after ice and 10 inches (250 millimetres) of snow coated power lines, said the state's largest utility, Entergy Arkansas.