The biggest snowstorm since the Blizzard of 1978 dumped up to two feet of snow on New England, closing Boston's Logan airport, blacking out power for 55,000 Rhode Islanders and killing at least three people.

The National Weather Service in Boston said the surprise blizzard was the worst early winter storm since Dec. 5-6, 1926, and the biggest since the February, 1978, blizzard that paralyzed the Northeast with up to 40 inches of snow, killing at least 55 New Englanders and rendering hundreds homeless.

The storm concentrated its strength in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, dumping 24 inches of snow in the Newport, R.I., area and 24 inches in Foxboro, southwest of Boston. Slippery roads were blamed for the auto crash deaths of Howard E. Wilder Jr. of Plainfield, N.H., and Amar Vereen of Middletown, Conn.

More than 55,000 people were left without power, including 45,000 residents of Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island. Gusty winds stripped snow-laden limbs from trees and sent them ripping through power lines.

About 200 people were stranded on Nantucket Island, where they had traveled Saturday to take part in the annual Christmas shopping festival.

On the West Coast, a fierce storm moving across the Pacific Northwest dumped almost 6 inches of rain in parts of Oregon, forcing evacuations and closing highways. Heavy fog blanketed southern California's coastal cities, and the weather was blamed for at least five deaths.