The number of workers who filed initial claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly in the latest week to 496,000, a U.S. Labor Department report showed on Thursday.

Analysts surveyed before the report had expected jobless claims to fall to 455,000 from 474,000 the week ended February 13, which was previously reported at 473,000.

A Labor Department official said the unexpected large rise could partly reflect a backlog of claims that were unable to be processed in four Mid-Atlantic and New England states because of heavy snowfall.

The blizzard also likely led to more workers having to file claims because they were unable to work, he said.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer. Editing by W Simon )