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Lights go out, roads dicey as wintry storm batters Northeast

The first big wintry storm of the season began dropping what forecasters say could be more than a foot of wet, heavy snow Saturday on parts of the Northeast, making travel treacherous and cutting off power to thousands.

Morning rain gave over to snow in the afternoon in New England. Accidents littered the Massachusetts Turnpike, where speed limits were reduced to 40 mph (64 kph). Massachusetts and New Hampshire utilities quickly reported thousands of customers without power.

Forecasters warned the windy nor'easter could result in near-blizzard conditions and could dump a foot (30 centimeters) of snow on suburban Boston. In Canada, southern Quebec and New Brunswick also expected a wallop.

A shopper pushes a full grocery cart through heavy snow the a parking, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Marlborough, Mass. The northeastern United States is seeing the first big snowstorm of the season. (AP PhotoBill Sikes)

Authorities in Connecticut urged drivers to be careful.

“Troopers are responding to accidents all over the state,” state police tweeted. “We ask motorists, if they can stay home please do. And if you have to go out please drive slow and ditch all distractions.”

Unitil Corp., an electric and gas utility in New England, reported that crews stood ready to respond to power outages.

Snow clings to a holiday wreath, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in downtown Marlborough, Mass. The northeastern United States is seeing the first big snowstorm of the season.(AP PhotoBill Sikes)

“The chief hazards with the current forecast include hazardous driving conditions in the early hours, the volume of wet snow forecasted to fall and possible gusty winds in coastal areas,” said spokesperson Alec O’Meara.

In some areas, snowfall of 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) per hour was possible, said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Clair in Gray, Maine.

“This is the first big one,” Clair said of the beginning of the winter season. “There has been some snow up in the mountains, but this is the first one across where most people live."

Snow clings to holiday decorations, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in downtown Marlborough, Mass. The northeastern United States is seeing the first big snowstorm of the season.(AP PhotoBill Sikes)

Localized totals of more than 18 inches (46 cm) are possible in higher terrain, Clair said. But the more populated areas just inland are expected to get about a foot.

Areas south of New England, including the New York region, expected heavy rain and strong winds.

A couple walks through heavy snow, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in downtown Marlborough, Mass. The northeastern United States is seeing the first big snowstorm of the season.(AP PhotoBill Sikes)

A snow clearing machine cleans a road during heavy snow, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Marlborough, Mass. The northeastern United States is seeing the first big snowstorm of the season.(AP PhotoBill Sikes)

A worker pours ice melting pellets on the walkway outside a restauratn, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in downtown Marlborough, Mass. The northeastern United States is seeing the first big snowstorm of the season.(AP PhotoBill Sikes)

A woman crosses Main Streete during heavy snow, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in downtownMarlborough, Mass. The northeastern United States is seeing the first big snowstorm of the season. (AP PhotoBill Sikes)