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Some could go days without power in cold Northeast

By Michael Pearson and Margaret Conley, CNN
updated 11:49 AM EST, Thu February 6, 2014
  • NEW: About 578,000 in at least three states without power after snow, ice storm
  • NEW: Thousands of utility workers flood storm-damaged states to fix lines
  • "We're very content," suburban Philadelphia couple say despite no power
  • Central U.S. to remain cold, but next storm unlikely to cause major problems

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Philadelphia (CNN) -- Bob and Debbie Burns endured three dark and powerless days after Hurricane Sandy. When the lights went out this time -- the result of a powerful winter storm-- they were ready.

Candles give a pleasant glow to their living room in Abington Township, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb. Burning logs in the fireplace give at least a little warmth.

They have hot water, and a gas stove to cook on -- both products of their experience in the wake of Sandy -- the 2012 hurricane that caused widespread damage and power outages up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

And they huddle under blankets and pass the time talking.

"We're very content," Bob Burns told CNN on Wednesday night. "It gives us more quality time to sit and talk."

Workmen clear a downed tree blocking a school bus in the aftermath of a winter storm on Friday, February 7, in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Utility companies scrambled to restore power to parts of the Northeast early Friday as hundreds of thousands shivered in the dark after a powerful snowstorm. Workmen clear a downed tree blocking a school bus in the aftermath of a winter storm on Friday, February 7, in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Utility companies scrambled to restore power to parts of the Northeast early Friday as hundreds of thousands shivered in the dark after a powerful snowstorm.
Snowstorm slams the heartland, Northeast
Photos: Snowstorm slams the heartland, Northeast Photos: Snowstorm slams the heartland, Northeast
Winter far from over

The couple are among an estimated 578,000 who remained without power early Thursday in the wake of Wednesday's snow and ice storm, according to a CNN tally of outage figures provided by electric utilities.

In Philadelphia alone, electric provider PECO said that at the peak of the outages midday Wednesday, more than 623,000 homes and businesses were without power.

That number had fallen to about 431,000 Thursday afternoon, according to the company.

The vast majority should get their power back by Friday, but for some, the wait could stretch to Sunday, spokeswoman Debbie Yemenijian told CNN.

After all, it's the second-most damaging storm in the company's history, PECO said.

Crews from Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Canada have joined PECO's workers to fix the damage, the company said. In all, more than 1,500 workers are in the field, it said.

A similar number have been fielded in the Baltimore area, where some 45,000 homes and businesses remained without power early Thursday, utility Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said on Twitter.

Tens of thousands also remained without power elsewhere in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with a handful of outages remaining in Ohio as well.

The storm that caused all the problems moved out of the Midwest on Wednesday, bringing more than 10 inches of snow to Boston, 13 inches to other parts of Massachusetts and 4 inches of snow and a quarter-inch of ice to New York.

The wet, heavy snow was a delight for children who got a snow day, less so for everyone else.

"Harder to push, not as easy actually to plow," said Boston snowplow driver Nick Sfravara. "It's definitely a challenge to get this stuff out of the way rather than the light stuff."

Another system is forecast to bring snow to the region this weekend, but it's not expected to produce as many problems, according to CNN meteorologists.

The central United States will continue to deal with unusual cold, with wind chill warnings or advisories posted in more than a dozen states where highs are expected to be 20 to 40 degrees below average.

Why schools hate snow days

Michael Pearson wrote and reported from Atlanta. Margaret Conley reported from Philadelphia. CNN's Ed Payne, John Newsome, Greg Botelho and Tom Watkins contributed to this report.

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