Thankful to arrive on snowy U.S. holiday with power out, travel delays

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Millions of Americans were thankful just to arrive at their Thanksgiving feasts on Thursday after a snowstorm dumped up to 20 inches of snow on Eastern states, causing flight delays and power outages.

Snow flurries drifted over Thomas the Tank Engine, Snoopy and other giant helium balloons in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, where police reported the arrests of at least seven protesters who had vowed over social media to disrupt the event to show outrage over the racially-charged Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri.

The demonstrators were arrested on Sixth Avenue and 37th Street near the parade route as the procession was underway but details, including the charges, were not immediately available, said NYPD Detective Annette Markowski.

Skies were expected to clear throughout the East Coast, which was slammed overnight by a wet snowstorm that wrought havoc with holiday travellers and cooks.

"Paw Paw, West Virginia - that's where the jackpot was for snowfall amounts," said meteorologist Andrew Orrison of the National Weather Service, noting the tiny town was buried under 20 inches of snow.

Oatmeal-like wet snow piled as high as 15 inches in the town of Savoy in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts and 14.6 inches in Warrensburg in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.

Heavy snow snapped tree limbs which damaged lines, causing hundreds of thousands of power outages from Maine to Virginia, utilities said, and the damage could takes days to repair. Public Service of New Hampshire said 140,000 customers were without power and Central Maine Power Company said on Thursday it was working to restore power to 86,213 households.

U.S. flight schedules were upended for a second day during the year's busiest travel period, with 56 flights cancelled and 403 delayed on Thursday, according to On Wednesday, more than 700 U.S. flights were cancelled and about 4,400 were delayed, it said.

More than 46 million Americans are expected to make trips between Wednesday and Sunday, travel group AAA said, with more than 89 percent travelling by car.

Cooks able to fire up their ovens prepared traditional pumpkin pies, stuffings and roasted turkeys, with a small but growing number preparing heritage turkeys linked to the country's early settlers.

Plumbers from coast to coast, meanwhile, girded for one of their busiest days of the year, when some harried cooks dump the grease from their roasted birds down the drain, inadvertently clogging household pipes and having to call for help.

It is a Thanksgiving tradition that for years has resulted in a 50 percent increase in calls on the Friday after the holiday to Roto-Rooter, the biggest U.S. plumbing and drain cleaning service, compared to a normal Friday, said company spokesman Paul Abrams.

(Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York, Ian Simpson in Washington and Colleen Jenkins in Wake Forest, North Carolina; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Nick Zieminski)