Snowstorm closes major highways, schools

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PORTJERVIS, N.Y. (AP) -- The first big snowstorm of the season in the Northeast closed sections of major highways Tuesday and blacked out thousands of utility customers.

The National Weather Service posted a winter storm warning for parts of New York state, in effect until 8 a.m. Wednesday, and issued winter storm advisories for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont.

"It looked like a mini blizzard in October," said Joe Orlando, spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. "We're salting the roads and we haven't even gone trick or treating yet."

Up to a foot of snow was possible in parts of upstate New York, with wind blowing at 25 mph and gusting to 40 mph, and as much as 9 inches of snow was forecast in Vermont's mountains, the weather service said. Eight inches of snow had fallen by late morning in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains.

Schools closed or delayed their opening in parts of Pennsylvania and New York state.

New York's Thruway Authority said Interstate 84 was closed for part of the morning at the New York-Pennsylvania state line in the Port Jervis area. It was reopened by late morning.

Stretches of Interstate 80 in northeastern Pennsylvania were closed intermittently because of multiple tractor-trailer wrecks, state agencies said.

PPL Corp. said more than 33,000 of its customers in northeastern Pennsylvania lost power when the heavy, wet snow brought down trees and power lines.

Elsewhere, light snow fell at higher elevations of the southern Appalachians, and National Park Service spokesman Bob Miller said. U.S. 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina was closed for part of the morning while crews spread sand.

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