UPDATE: Storm's high winds, snow, sleet lash Northeast

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A strong winter storm system that pounded the nation's midsection and wrecked people's holiday travel plans has begun lashing the Northeast.

The storm has knocked out power to thousands of homes, mostly in Arkansas. At least six deaths are being blamed on the storm, which spawned Gulf Coast region tornadoes on Christmas Day and a historic amount of snow in Arkansas before pushing through the Upper Ohio Valley and heading into the Northeast on Wednesday night.

High winds, snow and sleet are hitting Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Scores of motorists have gotten stuck on icy roads or have slid into drifts.

The aviation tracking website FlightAware.com says about 1,600 flights have been canceled.

A National Weather Service meteorologist in Indianapolis says he's describing the storm as a low-end blizzard "but that's sort of like saying a small Tyrannosaurus rex."

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- A storm system that is blamed for at least six deaths is spreading blizzard conditions as it moves toward the northeastern United States, slowing holiday travel.

Snow blew across southern Illinois and southern Indiana early today as the storm tracked up the Ohio River valley toward the Eastern seaboard and New England. There were whiteout conditions in southwestern Indiana, where 6 inches or more of snow had fallen by midmorning.

By 10 a.m., Indianapolis had 7 inches of snow on the ground -- including as much as 3 inches in a single hour.

The storm left more than 189,000 homes and businesses in Arkansas without power today.

Severe thunderstorms are in the forecast for the Carolinas. A line of blizzard and winter storm warnings extends to New York and on to Maine.

Police are reporting scores of accidents on snow-covered highways in central and western Maryland.

More than 900 flights around the United States had been canceled by midday today, according to the flight tracker FlightAware.com.