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Snowstorm blasts U.S. Northeast, cancelling nearly 1000 flights

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Saturday, December 14, 2013, 5:34 PM -

People across Southern Ontario won't be the only ones digging out of some snow this weekend. A fast-moving storm expected to drop 30 cm of snow or more in the U.S. Northeast over the weekend moved into the region Saturday as road crews went on high alert and airlines began cancelling flights. 

Utilities, airports and local officials braced for power outages, flight delays and slick roads while shoppers headed out to stores to tackle gift lists during a shorter-than-normal holiday shopping season. 

The National Weather Service has said 15 to 30 cm of snow are expected in the northeastern New England states, with as much as 35 cm possible along the Maine coast. Areas north and west of New York City and interior Pennsylvania could get 20 cm or more. About 15 cm was forecast in parts of Ohio, where snow began falling overnight. 

Airlines have cancelled about 940 flights because of the storm, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. Almost 350 flights into and out of Newark, New Jersey, have been cancelled, and 172 at Chicago's O'Hare airport have been called off. ExpressJet and United have cancelled the most flights so far. 

Meteorologist Paul Head with the National Weather Service in State College, Pennsylvania, said winds will pick up into Sunday, presenting hazardous blowing snow for motorists. 

Temperatures in Connecticut dropped into the teens as snow began to fall there Saturday, and officials worried about road conditions since a saltwater solution normally applied before storms would freeze. But they were grateful the bad weather wouldn't affect work day commutes. 

Caroline Pretyman, a spokeswoman for Northeast Utilities, which serves electric and gas customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, said extra crews would be available beginning overnight Saturday to respond to outages. 

New York City's Office of Emergency Management asked drivers to stay off the roads and, if they do drive, they should go slowly and stick to major streets or highways.

With files from The Associated Press

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