BOSTON (Reuters) - Heavy snow was falling across parts of Pennsylvania on Saturday where thousands of households were already without power from a rare October snowstorm barreling up the East Coast.


Snow was coming down from central Pennsylvania up into southeastern New York and Connecticut after blanketing parts of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland earlier in the day, AccuWeather.com forecasters said.

In Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia, more than 63,000 customers were without power, according to Allegheny Power. At least 30,000 additional customers were without power in Pennsylvania and New Jersey based on Penelec reports.

Airport delays were reported at Philadelphia International Airport and at New York area airports. At John F Kennedy International Airport some arriving flights were delayed more than four hours.

The snow threatened posed traffic problems for some 100,000 college football fans trying to attend the game on Saturday afternoon between Penn State and the University of Illinois in State College, Pennsylvania.

The university warned fans not to park on grassy areas and to avoid pitching tents or driving large campers that might get stuck at the football stadium.

"It's a strong storm for October," said AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Paul Walker.

"We don't usually see storms this deep and this strong," he said, adding it was unusual to get accumulating snow this month.

The rare early season snowstorm was expected to unleash heavy, wet snow and wind across much of the Northeast on Saturday with some areas bracing for up to a foot of snow and major power outages.

For some, the big flakes and accumulation caused excitement, instead of headaches.

"There's almost like an electric buzz when the first snow falls," said Anna Weltz, communication director for Seven Springs Mountain Resort, located about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

By early afternoon, six inches of snow was already on the ground at the family ski resort, where phones were ringing off the hook with people asking about opening day.

"And it's still coming down," said Weltz. "What a sight."

The storm was moving northeast, starting as rain and changing to snow as temperatures dropped, and was expected to hit hardest areas west and northwest of the I-95 highway corridor, Walker said.

While October snow is not unprecedented, this storm could be record-setting in terms of snow totals.

Hartford, Connecticut, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Worcester, Massachusetts were among the cities that could be blanketed with up to a foot of snow, forecasters said.

Allentown, for example, typically sees its first measurable snow around December 5, according to The Weather Channel.

Boston will generally see its first measurable snow around the end of November, while New York City and Philadelphia measure their first flakes, on average, mid-December.

The major coastal cities are not likely to be spared from this October nor'easter, meteorologists predicted.

New York City was bracing for up to four inches of snow, tapering off Saturday night, The Weather Channel said.

In Boston, the forecast called for a windy afternoon rain to turn to snow overnight, bringing up to three inches of white stuff, it said.

Wind gusts along the coast could reach 45 miles per hour, it said, adding to the tree limbs and power lines already expected to be down from the heavy, wet snow.

(Additional reporting by Ben Schmitt in Pittsburgh; Editing by Greg McCune)

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