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US Northeast hit with heavy snow from storm that kills 21; South still reeling from ice

Good Samaritans help push a stranded motorist stuck in deep snow on Stefko Boulevard Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 in Bethlehem, Pa. A wide swath of Pennsylvania awoke Thursday to a fresh coating of snow and a forecast for much more to come over the course of the day. (AP Photo/Chris Post)

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Good Samaritans help push a stranded motorist stuck in deep snow on Stefko Boulevard Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 in Bethlehem, Pa. A wide swath of Pennsylvania awoke Thursday to a fresh coating of snow and a forecast for much more to come over the course of the day. (AP Photo/Chris Post)

PHILADELPHIA - A new storm paralyzed the U.S. Northeast with heavy snow and sleet, while hundreds of thousands across the ice-encrusted South waited in the cold for the electricity to come back on.

At least 21 deaths were blamed on the treacherous weather, including that of a pregnant woman struck by a snowplow in a New York City parking lot as she loaded groceries into her car.

The sloppy mix of snow and face-stinging sleet grounded more than 6,500 flights Thursday. On Friday, the number of flight cancellations dropped to about 1,110 nationwide.

About 1.2 million homes and businesses lost power as the storm moved from the South through the Northeast. About 550,000 customers remained in the dark, mostly in South Carolina and Georgia.

Many schools remained closed in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York state, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia.

"Every time it snows, it's like, "Oh, not again,'" said Randal DeIvernois of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, which had about 10 inches (25 centimetres) of snow. "I didn't get this much snow when I lived in Colorado."

Washington, D.C., residents received 9 inches (23 centimetres) of snow, New York City received nearly 10 inches (25 centimetres), and parts of New Jersey had more than 11 inches (28 centimetres).

In New York, a woman named Min Lin died after she was struck by a utility vehicle with a snowplow in Brooklyn. Her nearly full-term baby was delivered in critical condition via cesarean section.

No charges were brought against the snowplow operator in what appears to have been an accident, police said.

Across the South, the storm left a world of ice-encrusted trees and driveways and snapped branches and power lines.

In North Carolina, where the storm caused huge traffic jams in the Raleigh area, National Guardsmen patrolled the snowy roads, looking for stranded motorists. Some roads around Raleigh remained clogged with abandoned vehicles.

Around the country, this is shaping up as one of the snowiest winters on record. As of early this month, Washington, Detroit, Boston, Chicago, New York and St. Louis had gotten roughly two or three times as much snow as they normally receive.

The relentless snow and ice storms have led to the most flight cancellations in more than 25 years, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

U.S. airlines have cancelled more than 75,000 domestic flights since Dec. 1, including roughly 14,000 this week. That's 5.5 per cent of the 1.35 million flights scheduled during that period, according to AP calculations based on information provided by flight tracking site FlightAware.

The procession of storms and cold blasts — blamed in part on a kink in the jet stream, the high-altitude air currents that dictate weather — also cut into retail sales across the U.S., the Department of Commerce said. Sales dipped 0.4 per cent in January.

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Associated Press writers Kevin Begos in Pittsburgh; Michael Rubinkam in Berks County, Pennsylvania; Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia; Sarah Brumfield and Brett Zongker in Washington; Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Virginia; and David Dishneau in Frederick, Maryland; contributed to this report.

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