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Rare October snowfall pummels the Northeast

October 29, 2011 |  4:00 pm

Cow in Snow

A powerful storm bringing damp snow and heavy winds churned its way up the East Coast on Saturday, dumping up to 10 inches in some stretches and knocking out power for about 1.4 million customers.

The mid-Atlantic states took the brunt of the unusual October snowstorm, with about a million customers from Maryland north through Connecticut losing electricity. In Pennsylvania, almost 428,000 people were without power Saturday afternoon.

“This is unprecedented in the last 100 years -- for October,” Bill Simpson,  a meteorologist with the  National Weather Service in Boston, said in an interview with The Times.

The storm is expected to continue into early Sunday, threatening to drop upward of a foot of slushy snow on parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

By midday Saturday, Terra Alta, W.Va., had gotten 10 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's capital, received a record 5 inches of snow. The previous record? In 1952, the city had a record snowfall of a nonmeasurable amount, said Barry Lambert, a National Weather Service meteorologist in State College, Pa. (As noted, such a storm is rare this time of year.)

The snow and powerful winds of up to 60 mph hours could leave more people without power by knocking down power lines and trees with leafy branches, Lambert told The Times.

On the plus side, the wet and sloppy nature of the snow might ultimately prove beneficial.

“It’s so wet that it was actually melting quickly and sliding off the trees,” he said.

In New York, the 1.3 inches of snow that had fallen at Central Park by midday made this month the snowiest October since records began being kept in 1869.

At New York's Occupy Wall Street protest, drenched protesters hunkered down in tents and under tarps as the plaza filled with rainwater and melted snow. 

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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-- Stephen Ceasar

Photo: A cow weathers the storm in Buffalo Run, Pa. Credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

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