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 Wednesday, 25 December, 2002, 19:45 GMT
Freak snowstorm hits north-east US
Arkansas resident clears pavement in town of Bella Vista
Few Americans are used to big snowfalls on Christmas Day
A huge snowstorm sweeping through the United States is expected to bring New England its whitest Christmas on record after causing at least 15 deaths in the Mid-West.

We don't get a whole lot of snow on Christmas Day

Eleanor Vallier-Talbot
Meteorologist

By the end of the day at least 30 centimetres (12 inches) is likely to have fallen in a band stretching from north-eastern Pennsylvania to Maine.

"This will be the biggest Christmas Day snowstorm on record," said Eleanor Vallier-Talbot, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.

The north-eastern US is no stranger to snow or freezing temperatures, but storms usually come after New Year.

"We don't get a whole lot of snow on Christmas Day, so this is pretty cool," Ms Vallier-Talbot said.

Boston, which had a previous Christmas Day record of 8 centimetres (3.3 inches) in 1974, is braced for its heaviest snowfall since records began in 1871.

Missouri misery

Blizzard conditions are expected from 1700 in New England (2200 GMT), as the storm gathers renewed energy and water off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware.

Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania
Many places will be knee-deep in snow

Police have warned people not to travel unnecessarily.

The National Weather Service urged motorists to carry a winter weather survival kit, including a shovel, food, water and blankets.

The storm has already wreaked havoc in the south-western and central United States, causing at least 15 deaths in recent days.

It descended from Missouri as far south as Texas, snarling up roads and closing down airports as people headed home for the holidays.

Oklahoma, where such weather has not been seen for 25 years, was covered in snow up to 30 centimetres deep in places.

Missouri was hardest hit by the storm when it set in on Monday, with five people killed in four separate accidents on the roads.

Drivers in the Texas Panhandle found themselves in the novel situation of having to make their way through snow and there are reports of crashes there, too.

See also:

25 Dec 02 | Americas
25 Dec 02 | Americas
12 Nov 02 | Americas
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