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Record snowfall buries New York City

'Dangerous storm' wallops East Coast, snarls travel

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Traffic on I-95 backs up behind a group of snowplows Sunday in Rhode Island.

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BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- A raging nor'easter howled up the East Coast on Sunday, breaking a snowfall record in New York, shutting down airports and dumping more than two feet of snow on parts of the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states.

Central Park in New York City had recorded nearly 27 inches by about 4:15 p.m. Sunday, breaking a record of 26.4 inches set in December 1947, according to the National Weather Service.

Other snowfall totals included 27.8 inches in Fairfield, Connecticut; 25.4 inches at New York's LaGuardia Airport; 21.3 inches in Columbia, Maryland, near Baltimore; and more than a foot in parts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm packed winds of up to 40 mph as it brushed the coast, and some parts of New England remained under blizzard warnings into Sunday evening, the National Weather Service reported.

Lightning and thunder accompanied some of the snowfall. The National Weather Service called the rare phenomenon "thundersnow."

The heavy snow shut down Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport and all three major New York City-area airports -- LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty International. That forced the cancellation of thousands of flights, snarling air traffic nationwide.

But by 6 p.m. Sunday, only LaGuardia and smaller regional airports remained closed. Airlines urged passengers to call or check company Web sites for details and rescheduling information.

LaGuardia was set to reopen at 6 a.m. Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration reported. As of Sunday night, passengers were experiencing delays of more than 4 hours at John F. Kennedy Airport, and up to 2 hours at Philadelphia International Airport.

Washington was briefly under a snow emergency Sunday, with 119,000 customers without power at one point, along with 62,000 customers in Baltimore and thousands more in New York and New Jersey.

"Make no mistake, this is a dangerous storm," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who urged residents and tourists to stay indoors and cautioned strongly against driving.

Transit in the New York region was also slowed, with Metro-North Railroad service affected. Long Island Rail Road trains into and out of Pennsylvania Station were halted.

New York City's subway and bus systems were operating, though buses were running less frequently than usual, according to the Port Authority.

The city's sanitation department had 2,500 workers on the streets, each working 12-hour shifts for around-the-clock snow removal as New York prepared for Monday morning's rush hour.

One New Yorker noted the contrast with the city's milder weather in recent weeks.

"It's sort of crazy because it was so warm a couple of weeks ago and now we have knee-deep snow," Skye Drynan told The Associated Press as she walked her dogs Bella and Forest in Lower Manhattan.

The manager of a ski resort in Londonberry, Vermont, told the Reuters news agency that he welcomed the snow.

"I think this will get people back in the spirit of winter and skiing," Gary Aichholz said.

Airlines cancel flights

Delta, the second-busiest airline in the United States, canceled all of its Sunday flights at Boston's Logan International Airport and T.F. Green International Airport outside Providence, Rhode Island.

The airline was offering only limited service at airports in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Hartford, Connecticut, spokeswoman Gina Laughlin said.

The airline also suspended Delta Shuttle operations between New York, Boston and Washington, she said.

US Airways spokesman Carlo Bertolini said the airline had canceled at least 40 flights each out of Boston, Washington and Philadelphia.

Logan International Airport remained open, but 90 percent of the daily 1,250 scheduled inbound and outbound flights were canceled, spokesman Richard Walsh said.

Boston Public Schools will be closed Monday, according to the system's Web site.

At Philadelphia International Airport, spokesman Mark Pesce said 30 percent of its arrivals and departures had been canceled.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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