Storm blasts East with snow, cold; warmer Tuesday

March 26, 2013 - 2:28 AM
Spring Storm New York

New York Aquarium employees, including Cristina Mendoca, right, feed and train sea lions as snow falls at the aquarium in New York, Monday, March 25, 2013. A wide-ranging storm is hitting the East Coast after blanketing the Midwest and burying thoughts of springtime weather under a blanket of heavy wet snow and slush, though less snow was predicted to fall as the storm moves eastward. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

HAMBURG, Pa. (AP) — The calendar says it's spring, but the weather hardly feels like it.

A large storm system that deposited snow, sleet and cold rain on much of the East Coast was finally expected to taper off overnight Tuesday, to be replaced by partly sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s by late Tuesday morning or early afternoon.

Monday's storm forced many East Coast schools to open late or close early, and hundreds of flights were canceled. But it was mainly an annoyance — especially to anyone longing for balmy weather.

In Hamburg, Pa., which has seen three here-and-gone snowfalls in little more than a week, carpet installer Seth Hanna said he loves to snowboard. But even he's ready for some warm spring temperatures.

"We got these warm days a few weeks ago, and everybody got their hopes up. March is supposed to be out like a lamb but it's not doing it," said Hanna, 30.

The wide-ranging storm buried parts of the Midwest under more than a foot of snow, weakening as it moved east but still carpeting lawns and fields in a fresh layer of white. In New York City, pedestrians braved a stiff wind that drove an unpleasant mixture of sleet and rain. At the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, people waiting in line for tickets to this week's arguments on gay marriage held umbrellas or put tarps over their belongings as the snow fell.

Fortunately, the spring snow was not expected to affect Washington's famous cherry blossoms. National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said the flowering trees are still expected to reach peak bloom between April 3 and April 6.

Mitchell Gaines, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., said colder-than-normal temperatures the past few weeks had created conditions ripe for snow.

"It's fairly late in March to see a system like this," he said.

The cold temperatures and miserable mixture of snow and rain had people longing for more agreeable weather.

"I'm ready for flip flops," said Jessica Cunitz, 24, of Westchester County, N.Y., who stopped at a gas station along Interstate 78 in Pennsylvania to fill her overheating car with antifreeze. "It's supposed to be spring."

In Maryland, Michael Pugh donned a wool coat, knit cap, waterproof pants and heavy boots to trudge more than a mile through four inches of wet snow to his bank in downtown Hagerstown, about 70 miles west of Baltimore. He pronounced the weather "dreadful."

By this time of year, "I was hoping it'd be sunny and the weather breaking," said Pugh, a warehouse worker who turned 38 Monday. "Every day I think I can pack up the winter coat, and break out the spring clothes, and I can't."

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Associated Press writers David Dishneau in Hagerstown, Md., and Jessica Gresko in Washington contributed to this story.