South Windsor (US): Millions of people in the US Northeast were without power as an unseasonably early storm dumped heavy, wet snow over the weekend on a region more used to gaping at leaves in October than shovelling snow.

The snow was due to stop falling in the northeastern New England states, but it could be days before many of the more than 3 million without electricity see it restored, officials warned.

At least three deaths were blamed on the weather, and states of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.

The storm worsened as it moved north, and communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit. Snowfall totals topped 27 inches in Plainfield, and nearby Windsor had gotten 26 inches by early Sunday.

Compounding the storm's impact were still-leafy trees, which gave the snow something to hang onto and that put tremendous weight on branches, said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro.

That led to limbs breaking off and contributed to the widespread power outages. The 750,000 who lost power in Connecticut broke a record for the state that was set when the remnants of Hurricane Irene hit the state in August.

People could be without electricity for as long as a week, said Gov Dannel P Malloy.

This outage will be worse than the one caused by Irene, said Peter Bloom, 70, of South Windsor, because he relies on electricity to heat his home.

"I'm going to put another blanket on. What else can I do?" he said as he gassed up a snow blower to clear his driveway. "At least I'll save a few bucks on my electric bill."

(Agencies)