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Winter storm buries southern New England

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The third winter storm in three weeks buried parts of the Northeast in nearly 2 feet of wet, blowing snow Wednesday, smothering highways, halting trains, and causing thousands of homes and business to go cold and dark.

The storm, which iced over much of the South before sweeping up the East Coast, wreaked havoc on the morning commute across southern New England.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency and mobilized the National Guard. He said the storm brought more snow and a wetter kind of snow than officials expected, leaving more than 100,000 people without power or heat by noon.

In New York, where city leaders took heavy criticism for their slow work after a Dec. 26 blizzard, officials rolled out a massive response that quickly cleared the streets. They also received some help from nature, with only 9 inches of snow falling in Central Park — well short of 20 inches in last month’s storm.

This time, the deepest snow fell farther north.

The roof of an apartment building in Norwich partially collapsed under the weight of the snow, forcing 10 people from their homes. State troopers, working double shifts on orders of the governor, responded to about 900 spinouts, fender-benders and stranded vehicles.

By early afternoon, New Fairfield had 28 inches of snow, and Danbury had 24 inches. The 22.5 inches recorded at Bradley International Airport set a one-day record for snowfall in the Hartford area.

But the storm had no chance of touching the previous one-day record for the state of 30 inches, set in 1888 in Middletown and matched in 1969 in Falls Village.

The storm joined forces with another system passing through the Midwest and announced its arrival in New England with claps of thunder.

Motorists from the Carolinas to Maine were cautioned to stay off the roads, but that was not an option for Josh Clukey, 24, of Eastford, Conn. He ventured out with his pregnant wife when she began showing signs of labor after midnight. The drive to a hospital in Willimantic, normally 25 minutes, lasted a harrowing hour.

“It was a little scary. It was dark, and the snow was blowing all over the place. I drove really slow,” said Clukey, whose son, Ryland James, was born at 8:42 a.m. “There was maybe only about 6 inches on the roads at the time, but the plows hadn’t come out yet.”

Scores of schools, businesses and government offices closed. And more than 1,700 flights were canceled at the New York region’s three airports, which were trying to resume normal operations Wednesday.

Commuter rail service was delayed or suspended across the region, and Amtrak suspended service between New York City and Boston because of damage to the overhead power system south of Boston.

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