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Jim Cole, Associated Press
A car travels along the highway as snow falls , Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014 in Concord, N.H. The season's first major snowstorm is promising up to a foot of snow in some places, slowing holiday travel.

CONCORD, N.H. — The first major snowstorm of the season left more than 300,000 customers in northern New England without power, forcing many to make last-minute changes to their Thanksgiving plans.

The heavy snowfall set accumulation records across the region, snapped tree branches that fell onto power lines and caused cars to skid into utility poles. Utilities said it could take several days before all the power is restored in some places.

Residents were trying to make the best of the ill-timed storm. Mike Mrowicki, a Vermont state representative from Putney, said he was in the middle of baking squash and making apple-cranberry crisp for a Thanksgiving feast for 10 when the lights flicked off Wednesday night.

"We've got a gas stove, and we've got a woodstove we heat with," Mrowicki said. "We've got plenty of lanterns and candles."

Mrowicki was among about 15,000 customers in Vermont who lost electricity at the storm's peak. That figure was just a few dozen by Thursday night.

In New Hampshire, more than 200,000 customers lost power at the height of the storm, making it the fourth-largest power outage in state history. The number of customers in the dark had dropped by about 50,000 by late Thursday.

Michael Todd, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Safety, encouraged residents to make alternate plans, such as staying with family members or going to a shelter.

"This is not something you should try to wait out in your house," Todd said.

The Rhodes family in Concord listened to the sound of branches snapping and trees creaking overnight as their home lost power.

Ian Rhodes had been planning to host his first Thanksgiving with his wife and two young children for a dozen people, but the loss of electricity made that impossible. Instead of cooking all day at home, they're heading to his parents' house in Jaffrey, about 50 miles to the south.

"We were thinking, 'This is going to be a lot of work,' and then this happened," Rhodes said of the storm.

At the storm's peak, more than 100,000 were without power in Maine. That was down to about 33,000 by late Thursday.

Northern New England also got a healthy helping of snow to go with their Thanksgiving menus. In New Hampshire, accumulation totals included 18.4 inches in Madison and 16.5 inches in Laconia. In Concord, the 10.3 inches of snow that fell set a record for the date, the last being 4.5 inches set in 1956, the National Weather Service said.

In Maine, Lewiston measured 15 inches of snow and Portland registered about 8.5 inches. In Vermont, Orwell had 16 inches, St. Johnsbury had 11.2 inches and South Burlington had 8.4 inches. The accumulation helped Bangor set a record for the snowiest November on record: 25.9 inches by Thursday morning, with three days left in the month.

The National Weather Service said temperatures were dropping to the 20s to low teens in the region Thursday night. Warmer weather isn't due to arrive until Sunday.

Associated Press writers Dave Gram and Holly Ramer contributed to this report from Montpelier, Vermont, and Concord, New Hampshire, respectively.