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Flights Cancelled As Snow Hits US Northeast

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A powerful winter storm responsible for wind, snow, tornadoes and a flurry of traffic accidents battered the US Northeast on Thursday, with hundreds of flights cancelled.

A Southwest Airlines jet skidded off the runway on Thursday at Long Island MacArthur Airport, about 50 miles (80 km) east of New York City, as it taxied for takeoff, Suffolk County police said.

None of the 134 people aboard Tampa-bound flight 4695 was injured, police said.

"It's been undetermined at this time if weather was a factor," a police spokeswoman said.

The storm dumped a foot (30 cm) of snow on parts of the United States with the heaviest snow falling across northern New York and into northern New England, the National Weather Service reported.

The service issued coastal flood advisories from New York's Long Island to southern Maine and winter storm warnings for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and New England.

Airlines cancelled 548 flights on Thursday after 1,500 US flights were cancelled on Wednesday, according to FlightAware.

The massive storm system dumped record snow in north Texas and Arkansas before it swept through the US South on Christmas Day and then veered north.

The system triggered tornadoes and left almost 200,000 people in Arkansas and Alabama without power on Wednesday.

The weather service forecast 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) of snow for northern New England after the storm moved northeast out of the lower Great Lakes, where it left more than a foot (30 cm) of snow on parts of Michigan.

The storm front was accompanied by freezing rain and sleet, creating hazards on the highways and at airports.

Retailers, still in the busy holiday shopping season, expected sales would continue with consumers looking for winter items.

The snow also brought renewed hope for winter recreation across upstate New York.

About 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) of snow fell on Buffalo overnight. Light snow and freezing drizzle persisted throughout the morning hours, with another inch or two possible in some areas.

Before Wednesday evening's snow, Buffalo was 23 inches (58 cm) below average for this time of year, the weather service said.

"It's just a reminder, winter is here," said Tom Paone of the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

(Reuters)

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