NEW YORK (Reuters) - One of the darkest Halloweens ever loomed for about 3 million households left without power on Sunday by a rare October snowstorm in the Northeast that bedeviled transportation and killed at least eight people.
Jack-o’-lanterns peeked through record-breaking snow, the heaviest of which was 31.4 inches measured in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, according to the National Weather Service.
Just 45 minutes northwest of New York City, in West Milford, New Jersey, 19 inches of snow fell.
“It’s too scary — the windows are rattling too loud,” a terrified Sophia Band, 6, said, her father recalled, as she jumped into her parents’ bed in Conway, Massachusetts overnight during the crushing storm.
The snowy, windy weather that began on Saturday was expected to exit Maine later on Sunday, but not before dumping up to a foot of snow on northern New England, particularly southern Vermont, the National Weather Service said.
Howling winds and heavy, wet snow snapped enormous trees like twigs, downing power lines from West Virginia to Maine.
By Sunday evening, there were about 3 million households without electricity across the Mid-Atlantic and New England.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said the state experienced the largest number of power outages in its history. Maine, Massachusetts and New Jersey all said they did not expect service to return to normal for several days, while in Connecticut and New Hampshire it could be more than a week.
In Hartford, Mayor Pedro Segarra said almost 70 percent of the city was in the dark. Most Connecticut cities opened warming centers late Sunday for chilled residents.
Throughout Connecticut and New Jersey, scores of public schools closings were announced for Monday.
Despite the darkness and cold, trick or treaters stuck with plans to make their annual candy rounds, with last-minute adjustments like tucking thermal underwear beneath a bridal gown or donning a turtleneck under a galactic warrior tunic.
Transit nightmares were reported on planes and trains throughout the storm-struck region.
Some 48 passengers on an Amtrak train bound for Boston were stranded for 13 hours overnight when a rockslide blocked the tracks near central Massachusetts, company spokeswoman Vernae Graham said. They were bussed to their final destinations before noon on Sunday.
Other Amtrak service was suspended between Providence and Boston; New Haven, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts; and Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
New Jersey Transit and Metro-North Railroad suspended service on several lines into New York City on Sunday.
Airports slowly returned to normal service on Sunday, although there were some residual delays due to wind at Newark International Airport.
JetBlue Airways was investigating reports 126 passengers were stuck for more than seven hours Saturday on the tarmac at Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Connecticut, without food, water or working lavatories, said spokeswoman Victoria Lucia. They were aboard Flight 504 from Florida, diverted to Bradley from Newark due to the storm.
The company apologized directly to the customers and offered a refund and vouchers for a round trip flight, Lucia said.
AT LEAST EIGHT STORM-RELATED DEATHS
Icy roads throughout the Northeast proved deadly. Early Sunday, Oscar Ramos, 40, was killed in Wayne, New Jersey, when his car smashed into a utility truck parked along Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne Police said.
In White Plains, New York, a 65-year-old driver and two passengers, a 70-year-old woman and a 51-year-old man, were killed when the driver tried to go around a snow barricade erected by police and slammed head-on into another vehicle.
Slippery conditions caused the crash and death of a man driving in Colchester, Connecticut on Saturday, and in Stroud Township, Pennsylvania, a 57-year-old female passenger was killed when her husband lost control of their car on icy Route 611.
In Temple, Pennsylvania, an 84-year-old man was killed as he napped in his recliner when a snow-laden tree fell through his home, and in Springfield, Massachusetts, a 20-year-old man was electrocuted when he stepped out of his vehicle and touched an electrified guard rail.
Weather emergencies because of the storm were declared in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
A breakdown of power outages Sunday evening showed more than 800,000 households out in Connecticut; over 640,000 in Massachusetts; more than 600,000 in New Jersey; more than 400,000 in Pennsylvania; over 240,000 in New Hampshire; about 75,000 in Maine; around 160,000 in New York; and some 9,500 in Rhode Island.
Additional reporting by Lauren Keiper in Boston; Tim Sohn in eastern Pennsylvania, Zach Howard in Western Massachusetts; Mary Ellen Godin in Connecticut; Editing by Jerry Norton