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Four killed, 250,000 without power in winter storm

Weather takes a deadly turn

Stuart Barrows, of Vermont, braves howling winds while drilling holes for ice fishing on Lake Champlain.


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New York

ROCHESTER, New York (AP) -- More than a quarter-million homes and businesses still lacked power across the Northeast on Saturday as temperatures plummeted following a storm with hurricane-force wind gusts that was blamed for four deaths.

Wind was still blowing at about 30 mph through the region Saturday. On Friday, wind of more than 60 mph buffeted the Rochester area and a 77-mph gust was recorded at the city's airport, the weather service said.

The storm swept out of the Midwest on Friday, carrying a wave of bitterly cold air. Temperatures in some parts of western New York plunged from 60 degrees to below freezing within a few hours. (Tundra conditions in New York -- 2:24)

Hayward, Wisconsin, had a morning low of 26 below zero, and afternoon temperatures in the Upper Midwest were in single digits Saturday. Parts of Arkansas had more than 5 inches of snow Saturday and freezing temperatures extended across the state.

Utility officials in upstate New York said crews would work through the weekend to restore power to 160,000 customers, down from at least 328,000 customers who were blacked out Friday.

More than 40,000 homes and businesses had no electricity in New Hampshire, and more than 35,000 were without power in Maine.

Vermont, where the National Weather Service reported a wind gust of 143 mph on Stratton Mountain, had about 7,000 customers without power, and about 1,800 customers were blacked out in Massachusetts.

Several states opened shelters, providing havens with light and heat for those without power.

"Most people tough it out the first night and then come in the second night," said Mark Bosma, spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management.

In Michigan, about 43,000 customers were without power Saturday because of damage caused by 60 mph wind. Some homes and businesses were expected to remain blacked out until Monday.

The wind toppled trees in many areas.

Alfred Binder, 87, was unhurt when a huge tree fell across a road and hit his car in Laconia, New Hampshire.

"I swerved to the left, but I couldn't miss it," he told WMUR-TV. "I tried."

A falling tree crushed a car outside Rochester, killing a 52-year-old woman, and another killed a state worker in a truck at Saratoga Spa State Park. A falling tree killed the driver of a pickup at Billerica, Massachusetts.

East of Rochester, a man was killed when his vehicle slammed into a tractor-trailer rig whose driver had stopped to clear storm debris from his windshield. A dozen youngsters narrowly escaped injury in Gorham, 25 miles southeast of Rochester, when a tree heavily damaged their school bus.

Wind also knocked out a 12th-floor window in a high-rise office building in Syracuse, and falling debris barely missed passers-by, police said.

Broken glass crashed onto a sidewalk in Binghamton when wind gusting above 50 mph damaged windows on the upper floors of an eight-story building. No one was hurt.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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