By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) - Close to 1,000 flights were canceled and hundreds of vehicle crashes reported as a winter storm hit New England on Monday, dropping as much as two feet of snow on parts of Maine and leaving two dead in Massachusetts.
A 72-year-old man in Worcester, Massachusetts, died when he was struck by a snowplow on a roadway and a 60-year-old man died after being struck by a snowplow in a Bedford parking lot, police said.
Maine State Police urged people to stay off roadways due to large numbers of tractor-trailer crashes.
"We are having multiple crashes resulting in the blocking of roadways and ramps causing traffic to come dangerously to a stop," the state police said in a statement.
The storm, accompanied by winds up to 55 miles per hour (89 kph), downed tree limbs and power lines.
"It's probably our worst storm of the winter," said Michael Sempa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "The winds have picked up, the fallen snow is blowing around and we are still getting bands of new snow moving through."
Substantially less snow fell further south, though wind gusts threatened trees and power lines.
Courts were closed throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts, prompting a one-day delay in the start of jury selection for the double murder trial of former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez.
Some 963 U.S. flights were canceled on Monday. Boston's Logan International Airport was hardest hit with more than one of every five flights canceled, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
Until recently New England was experiencing a relatively mild winter.
National Weather Service data on Monday showed that Boston has recorded 32.4 inches (82 cm) of snow this year, less than half the amount it recorded by this time in the record-setting winter of 2014-2015, when more than 9 feet (2.74 m) of snow fell.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Additional reporting by Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Toni Reinhold)