A storm that blustered up the length of the East Coast left more than 175,000 customers without power Saturday in New England and littered highways and railroad tracks with tree limbs on one of the year's busiest travel days.

High wind knocked over the 50-foot, 7,300-pound Christmas tree outside the Prudential Center in Boston. Crews waited for the wind to die down before trying to put it back up."The storm was stronger than we expected. In fact it was pretty close to a hurricane," said Bob Plant, director of the Connecticut Office of Emergency Management.

Wind gusted above 80 mph during the night on Massachusetts' Nantucket Island, where some commuter flights were canceled. Wind up to 70 mph trashed trees in Connecticut. Rough seas washed a few small boats onto the beach, but there was little other damage.

On its northward trek along the coast, the storm wrecked several small boats off the Florida coast and flooded parts of South Carolina.

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Ferry service between the mainland and North Carolina's Outer Banks resumed Saturday and the main highway along the island chain was reopened, though strong wind was expected to continue through Sunday.

Up to 44,000 customers of Massachusetts Electric Co. had lost power since Friday night, most of them in Rhode Island, said utility spokeswoman Karen Berardino. On the eastern tip of New York's Long Island, utilities reported outages for 14,000 customers.

Commonwealth Electric Co. had 21,000 customers without power in southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard.

In Connecticut, about 110,000 Northeast Utilities customers were without power Saturday morning, said spokesman Emmanuel Forde.

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