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Northeast digs out from late winter storm

By WILSON RING Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. - A late-season storm dumped more than 2 feet of snow on parts of northern New England before finally tapering off Thursday to end a trek that dashed hopes of spring, caused deadly pileups in Ohio and left numbing cold in its wake.

The heaviest snow from the storm that roared out of the Midwest was reported across the northern parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and western Maine with 26 inches reported in the central Vermont town of Sharon.

On Wednesday, at least three people were killed and a state trooper was seriously injured in a series of crashes on the Ohio Turnpike. In New Hampshire, a truck driver was killed Wednesday when his tractor-trailer crashed on an icy road in the town of Chesterfield.

A series of minor accidents were reported across Vermont on Thursday, including a tractor trailer crash that closed the southbound lane of Interstate 89, but no serious problems were reported, said Vermont Transportation Agency dispatcher Larry Dodge, who monitors the entire state.

Blowing snow also caused numerous accidents on the New York Thruway, with sections of the highway between Syracuse and Buffalo closed for several hours. That area got more than a foot of snow from the storm.

Strong winds behind the snowstorm made for a blustery day across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, but the breezes would diminish and temperatures will rebound by Friday, the National Weather Service said.

In New Jersey, high winds caused a Conrail overhead wire pole to lean over commuter train tracks near the Journal Square station in Jersey City, suspending service.

In Vermont, where the temperature was in the teens and forecast to fall overnight, salt didn't melt snow and ice already on the highways.

"Today it's just plow, plow, plow, do the best they can," Dodge said of the state's road crews.

The storm ranked as the fifth largest March snowfall recorded at the Burlington International Airport, but Dodge said it didn't tax road crews long accustomed to cleaning up major storms.

"It's kind of run of the mill. It's one of our biggest storms this year, but it's not anything huge," Dodge said.

In Maine, one skier said the light, powdery snow that fell overnight was perfect.

"This is exactly what you need for backwoods skiing," said Shawn Mahar, 31, of the western Maine town of Phillips.

More than 11,000 electric customers in Maine and 4,000 in Vermont lost power for a time, but by Thursday afternoon the number of outages in Maine was under 1,000 and in Vermont the figure was in the single digits.

In Ohio, turnpike officials said it would take days to clean up the tractor-trailers and debris left behind on a two-mile stretch of the eastbound lanes southwest of Sandusky.

Mike Ramella, a salesman from the Cleveland suburb of Westlake, was among the drivers mired in traffic that backed up for 7 miles.

"I'm surrounded," by snow and cars, he told his wife on the phone. He said he was trying to get home to her and their three children, including a newborn, after a business trip to Michigan but was unable to make it to the next exit.

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