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Jim Nisula of Doylestown, Pennsylvania shovels snow and ice outside his home after a winter storm October 30, 2011 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

Getty Images/William Thomas Cain/Getty Images/William Thomas Cain

A deadly early winter storm rolled through the northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada on the weekend, leaving a still-rising number of fatalities and millions of people without power.

The unseasonable weather dumped upwards of 60 centimetres of snow on parts of western Massachusetts, where sidewalks in some places were left a mess of snow and tree limbs.

For safety reasons, community leaders in a string of Massachusetts towns are urging citizens to postpone Monday night's Halloween celebrations, the Boston Globe reported. Some went further, enacting curfews that effectively ban trick-or-treating.

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The storm moved Sunday into Atlantic Canada, which received a much lighter blow. But it still carried enough punch to contribute to at least one fatal vehicle crash and knock out power to thousands of homes. Customers in areas across the region were affected, with Nova Scotia Power reporting early Monday that more 10,000 were without electricity.

Driving was also hazardous and police across Atlantic Canada issued warnings to motorists.

In New Brunswick, the weather was cited as "a primary factor" in a collision that killed three people near Kent Junction, south of Miramichi. The RCMP said a vehicle lost control Sunday afternoon and was hit by a pick-up, which was then hit by another vehicle. All three fatalities were in the initial vehicle.

There was also at least one major collision on a slushy stretch of the Trans-Canada highway in western Newfoundland. Five vehicles were involved, some sliding off the road, but no deaths or serious injuries were reported.

In an overnight incident report, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary called the roads in the St. John's area "absolutely terrible" and said drivers were dealing with "heavy rain, high wind and a lot of standing water."

Fatalities in the United States included an 84-year-old Pennsylvania man killed when a snow-laden tree fell on his home while he was napping in his recliner, The Associated Press reported. Other deaths were attributed to vehicle crashes and electrocution.

The total reported fatalities ranges from five to 10 and the number continues to change.

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The number of people without power peaked at about 3 million and dropped to about 2 million by early Monday. Crews are being brought to affected areas from neighbouring states and Canada, AP reported, but it could be days or even a week before all residents have power again.

In many cases the damage was said to be worse because it hit while trees were still covered with leaves. The branches accumulated more snow and were quicker to break. The New York Times reported that Central Park may have lost as many as 1,000 trees — eight times the damage suffered after Tropical Storm Irene in early September.

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About the Author

Oliver Moore joined the Globe and Mail's web newsroom in 2000 as an editor and then moved into reporting. A native Torontonian, he served four years as Atlantic Bureau Chief and has worked also in Afghanistan, Grenada, France, Spain and the United States. More

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