CANTON, N.Y. - A winter storm bringing ice and whipping winds to the northernmost reaches of New York and Vermont knocked out power to thousands as officials urged motorists to avoid traveling in dangerously slick conditions.
In upstate New York's St. Lawrence County, almost 2 inches of ice had accumulated in the early morning hours of Sunday, coating tree limbs and power lines, county dispatch operations supervisor Jim Chestnut said.
Winds were expected to pick up, increasing the chances of outage issues, but a state of emergency was keeping roads clear of hapless motorists, Chestnut said.
"It's a big party weekend, the Saturday before Christmas," Chestnut said. "This put a little bit of a hamper onto that."
Significant accumulations of ice were expected to continue into Sunday afternoon for northern parts of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire as well as western Maine, the according to the National Weather Service.
"There's still quite a bit of precipitation still back around the Great Lakes that's still coming," said Eric Evenson, a meteorologist with the NWS office in Burlington, Vt.
National Grid reported more than 17,000 customers without power early Sunday. The utility said it could be Monday before service was restored to some customers.
Spokeswoman Karen Young said that in New York the counties hit hardest have been Jefferson and St. Lawrence.
She said that a workforce of about 1,600 had been assembled to deal with problems caused by the storm.
Fewer outages were reported in Vermont, though Burlington International Airport briefly lost power Saturday evening. A generator kicked on but service was quickly restored, airport Director of Operations Kelly Colling said.
"We're doing well, surprisingly well," she said.
Northern New Hampshire and parts of western Maine were also seeing ice. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland released parishioners from obligation to attend Mass, urging "extreme caution and prudence" about travel decisions.
Even after the storm moves out, a deep freeze is expected to set in.
"If anything, we're going to be trending toward below-normal temperatures through the middle of the week," Evenson said. Highs in the region are expected to reach only the teens on Tuesday and Wednesday with temperatures falling into the single digits or below zero at night.