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1st round of storms blankets Northeast

Tony Cordero of Albany bikes in the snow in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday.   The first in a double-whammy storm has dumped more than a foot of wet, heavy snow on parts of eastern New York, closing hundreds of schools and knocking out power to more than 100,0
Tony Cordero of Albany bikes in the snow in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday. The first in a double-whammy storm has dumped more than a foot of wet, heavy snow on parts of eastern New York, closing hundreds of schools and knocking out power to more than 100,000 customers.
Mike Groll, Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — Hundreds of schools were closed and more than 160,000 customers were without power Wednesday in the Northeast as a storm that's expected to "sit and spin" brought wet, heavy snow to some areas that have had a relatively snowless winter until now.

Nearly two feet of snow fell outside Albany, according to the National Weather Service, which expected another 2-4 inches to fall by the end of the day. Forecasters said Wednesday's storm would be followed by another expected to start Thursday and dump a foot or more on some areas by Friday, accompanied by high winds. Meteorologists said some areas of New York's Adirondack and Catskill mountains and Vermont's Green Mountains could get as much as 2 feet by the weekend.

"The storm really isn't going to go away quickly," said meteorologist Hugh Johnson of the weather service's Albany office. "It might sit and spin for a few days. It might not be until early next week that we get rid of the storm completely."

The storm began Tuesday and caused numerous accidents on New York interstate highways in the Hudson Valley, but state police said no serious injuries were reported.

The storm ended a long stretch without a major snowfall in eastern New York and northern New England, which had been spared from much of the severe weather that socked the mid-Atlantic with several feet of snow in recent weeks.

In fact, some New England areas were forced to cancel winter festivals, dog sled races and snow sculpting events this year due to the lack of any snow at all.

Before Wednesday, the Albany area had received just 28 inches of snow, well below its average snowfall total of 46 inches for this time of year. Wednesday's snow was particularly wet and thick.

Pat McDonough and her stepson spent more than a half hour shoveling the snow off their driveway and front walk in Voorheesville, a village just west of Albany.

"We tried the snowblower and it didn't work," McDonough said. "It keeps clogging up."

Due to a forecast that calls for significant snowfall in the metropolitan region, many carriers have already begun canceling flights, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said on its Web site Wednesday.

Travelers were advised to check with their airline before departing for the airport.

New York's power outages topped 135,000 Wednesday morning and were climbing as utility crews reached rural areas of the Hudson Valley and Catskills where up to 18 inches of snow had fallen. Another 26,000 outages were reported in Vermont and western Massachusetts. Schools were closed around eastern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts.

More snow is on the way for parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania still digging out from back-to-back blizzards earlier this month. As much as 6 inches was predicted over the central portion of New Jersey, and Philadelphia could get up to 8 inches by Thursday.

Contractor Jim Conde spent the morning plowing eight private roads outside Albany, getting stuck several times in the deep, compressed snow. With more on the way, he was likely to stay busy.

"That's what scares me the most," he said. "If we do get more, where are we going to put it?"

Associated Press writer Michael Hill contributed from Albany, N.Y.