An unseasonable snowstorm has hit the US East Coast, with some areas of Massachusetts seeing more than 27in (68cm) of snow.

The authorities say at least nine people have died in snow-related accidents.

More than three million homes have lost their electricity supply from Maryland to Massachusetts – some residents may be without power for several days.

The snowfall eased on Sunday, as the storm headed north from Maine.

It had worsened as it moved north, with states of emergency declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.

Communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit.

Nantucket in Massachusetts experienced wind speeds of 69mph (111km/h), a National Weather Service (NWS) statement said.

A number of deaths were reported in the storm:

* Four people were killed in two separate crashes on an icy road in Philadelphia, while falling snow killed an 84-year-old man in Temple, Pennsylvania
* A traffic accident killed one person in Colchester, Connecticut
* Traffic accidents killed a 54-year-old New York woman, and a person in New Jersey
* In Springfield, Massachusetts, a man died when he touched a protective rail surrounding downed power lines

Connecticut Governor Dannel P Malloy cautioned the 750,000 people who were without electricity in his state that the effects of the storm would still be felt after the snowfall stopped.

“If you are without power, you should expect to be without power for a prolonged period of time,” CBS News quoted him as saying.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s house was one of the 600,000 suffering power cuts in the state.
‘Not even Halloween’

West Milford, New Jersey, about 45 miles (70km) north-west of New York, saw 19in of snowfall, and Hillsboro, New Hampshire, saw 21.5in.

“I can’t believe it’s not even Halloween and it’s snowing already,” Carole Shepherd of Washington Township in New Jersey told Associated Press after shovelling her driveway.

In New York City, a new record for October snowfall was set when 1.3in fell in Central Park. Only three other snowy October days have been recorded in the park in 135 years of record-keeping.

Most of the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park saw out the storm.

Nick Lemmin, of Brooklyn, told AP he had “slept pretty well”, although fellow protester Adash Daniel headed off after three weeks in the park, saying: “I’m not much good to this movement if I’m shivering.”

On Sunday, passengers were stranded for more than seven hours on one JetBlue flight in Hartford, Connecticut.

On Saturday, flights were delayed at Newark airport in New Jersey, which was being lashed by heavy rains and winds.

Amtrak reported massive disruption to train services, including a 13-hour delay for passengers on one train in central Massachusetts.

John LaCorte, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Pennsylvania, told the agency that the last time the state saw a major storm so early was in 1972.

“This is very, very unusual. It has all the look and feel of a classic mid-winter nor’easter,” he said.

High pressure over south-eastern Canada had fed cold air south and into moisture from the North Carolina coast.

In New England it is usual for measurable snow to fall in early December.

NWS meteorologist Bill Simpson said temperatures could return to normal by the middle of next week.

“This doesn’t mean our winter is going to be terrible. You can’t get any correlation from a two-day event,” he said.