2 dead, 650,000 homes without power

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Heavy snow, winds batter northeast US; four states declare emergency; Massachusetts bans vehicles on all roads, some areas under 3 feet snow

A powerful storm, fast and furiously, swept across the Northeast on Saturday, dumping mountains of snow, forcing hundreds of motorists to abandon their cars at the height of the blizzard and knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of people.

The blizzard, dubbed as Nemo, played out the way many forecasters said it would — with New York City spared the worst, and points to the north and east hit harder.

With the storm still raging on Saturday morning, officials in Massachusetts ordered the evacuation of some communities along the coast as waves lashed the shoreline and high tide brought a surge of water inland.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, at a Saturday morning news conference, offered to help neighbouring states. "They have gotten an enormous amount of snow, and the snow continues to come down," he said. Most roads in the city, he said, were well on way to being cleared and he thanked people for staying off roads during the storm.

Through the night, winds gusted with hurricane force in some places, downing power lines and creating white-out conditions. More than three feet of snow fell in parts of Connecticut, and more than two feet were reported on Long Island and in Massachusetts.

States of emergency were declared in four states on Friday. The governor of Massachusetts banned travel on all roads as night fell, an order that remained in effect on Saturday.

Media reports said a 74-year-old man was killed when a young woman lost control of her car in the snow on a highway in New York, while another man was killed after he lost control of his car and hit a tree in New Hampshire, Press Trust of India reported.

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