Trenton, N.J. (AP) - A massive late winter storm roared out of the Southeast and into the Northeast overnight, dumping what could be more than a foot of snow, idling hundreds of flights and promising to turn Monday's commute treacherous.
Winter storm warnings were issued from North Carolina to New Hampshire, with most areas expected to see 8 to 12 inches of snow and slightly higher amounts possible in northern areas.
"It's the first of March, which, as you know, is the month that we say comes in like a lion and out like a lamb," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday. "It's pretty clear that the lions are getting ready to roar."
The blizzard-like snow -- together with sleet, freezing rain and wind gusts of up to 30 mph -- contributed to three deaths on the roads in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
More than 100 flights were scrubbed Sunday at Boston's Logan International Airport. Hundreds more flights were canceled at the New York region's three major airports, said Jennifer Friedberg, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
About 300 flights scheduled to fly in or out of Newark Liberty International Airport had already been canceled by late Sunday night.
Greyhound and Peter Pan canceled trips affecting travelers in and out of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine said the storm could cost the state anywhere from about $2.5 million to $7 million, depending on its severity. So far, New Jersey has spent about $22 million on this winter's "frequent snow events," an amount that's about twice as much as what was budgeted for this year.
Those who had to be on the road Monday were told to allow extra travel time because streets were expected to be slick and slippery and visibilities were likely to be limited.
All New Jersey state offices will hold a two-hour delayed opening on Monday and the state Senate canceled all its scheduled committee meetings.
Dozens of schools across New Jersey gave children a snow day. Boston Public Schools and the School District of Philadelphia did the same.
"We are urging residents to stay off the streets during the snowfall, if at all possible," Clarena I.W. Tolson, commissioner of Philadelphia's Streets Department.
New York City had 1,300 sanitation workers spreading salt and plowing streets Sunday night, and more than 2,500 were to be on duty on Monday, Bloomberg said. More than 100,000 tons of salt will be on hand.
It was likely to be the largest storm of the year, said city Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, who warned that commuters should plan for complications.
"It's going to be a difficult morning for public transportation. We're going to be making every effort to have the roadways open," he said.
Earlier Sunday, the snowfall rendered roads treacherous and delayed flights in Georgia, while in Alabama, more than 210 churches in the central part of the Bible Belt state had to cancel morning services.
Vonda Braswell of Alabaster, Ala., was throwing snowballs in her front yard instead of putting on her Sunday best. "I think you can worship in this it's so rare," she said.
Up to 7 inches of snow was expected through Monday morning in areas of Maryland, northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., where Mayor Adrian Fenty declared a snow emergency.
Maryland has already spent more than $40 million responding to bad weather in what's been a colder-than-usual winter, Gov. Martin O'Malley said Sunday. Any money spent on digging out from the rare March storm will further burden a state that's facing a $2 billion budget shortfall.
"I don't like snow," O'Malley said.
Associated Press writers Daniel Yee and Christina Almeida in Atlanta; Rodrique Ngowi in Boston; and Samantha Henry in New Jersey contributed to this report.