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Northeast digs out of Christmas snowstorm

ALBANY, N.Y., Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Snow blowers and shovels got a workout in the Northeast Thursday as residents began clearing a blanket of Christmas snow that left up to 36 inches at Little Falls in upstate New York.

Gusty winds and flurries remained as the Nor'easter blew out to sea, leaving behind some record-breaking snowfalls around the region. The strong winds were causing some flight delays at New York's LaGuardia and other airports in the region.

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The Christmas snowfalls ranged from 5 to 10 inches in the New York metropolitan area, up to 21 inches in Albany, and 36 inches at Little Falls. A snowstorm that began earlier in the week in the southern Great Plains produced the white Christmas.

"The storm is pretty much done and has moved off the coast, but we are getting some winds from the west that are causing blowing and drifting snow," said Ellie Kelch, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Albany.

A total of 21 inches of snow fell in the New York capital, 19.2 inches of it on Christmas, which was a new record for that day, surpassing 11.8 inches in 1978. It was also the fourth-greatest amount for a December snowstorm and the ninth-greatest overall.

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Crews were clearing roads, streets and parking lots as the weather improved but it may take a while for normal routines to resume across the Northeast.

"We're going to have trouble getting around for a while because of the shear amount of snow," Kelch said. "There's also going to be blowing and drifting snow to contend with for a while."

The record snowfall was the final gasp of a Christmas week snowstorm that began early in the week in the Texas Panhandle. Up to 12 inches of snow fell in northern Oklahoma and southwest Missouri as the major winter storm moved north, packing roads for thousands of holiday travelers.

In the milder temperatures to the south, the same storm system produced damaging tornadoes and high winds from Houston in southeast Texas across the south to Georgia. Power outages, collapsed walls, and uprooted trees were reported in Houston.

Meanwhile, a second storm system approached the northern Pacific coast Thursday with rain and 3 to 6 inches of new snow expected in the mountains. A snow shower was reported in Oklahoma and Kansas moving toward the northeast.

(Reported by Phil Magers in Dallas)

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