Spring snow snarls traffic in New York

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IOL pic mar26 washington snow storm Reuters Snow covers the flowers in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington during the spring storm.

New York - The first Monday of spring brought snow instead of sunshine along the US East Coast, snarling the morning commute in the densely populated stretch between Washington and New York.

A storm that had dropped significant amounts of snow across the Midwest over the weekend rolled across Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey, bringing a slushy mix of snow and rain that prompted school closings and contributed to traffic accidents around the region.

In the Washington area, the wet, heavy snow shut schools or delayed openings, and local governments also moved back their opening times. Local utilities reported scattered outages.

For the first time since January 2011, snow measured more than 2.5cm at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The National Weather Service had winter storm warnings in effect from Massachusetts to South Carolina, with as much as 25cm recorded in mountainous parts of West Virginia and up to 30cm expected in Pittsburgh.

“Right now the eastern suburbs of (Washington) D.C. are still seeing moderate snow and it's extending up through Baltimore and into northeastern Maryland,” said Heather Sheffield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Virginia. She added that the storm was moving north and snow showers were expected through the day.

Nearly 500 airline flights in the United States had been cancelled, mostly in the New York City area, according to FlightAware.com.

The storm's effects were likely to be felt as far north as Boston, although it was not expected to drop much snow on most of New England, said Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.

“This storm will be different than most we've seen this winter,” Kines said. “Most of the storms have affected a good chunk of New England and this one looks like it will head out to sea before then.”

In the lower Great Lakes, winter weather advisories were in effect in many areas.

In Cleveland, hundreds of schools were closed and a snow emergency was in effect until further notice. Forecasters predicted as much as an inch of snow would fall per hour through the afternoon.

In Indiana, state troopers responded to dozens of weather-related calls from motorists in the northern part of the state.

Winter's stubborn persistence on the fifth day after the official start of spring has started to take a toll on some parts of the country. Last week an Ohio prosecutor said he would like to charge Punxsutawney Phil, the prognosticating groundhog who in February called for an early spring, with fraud. - Reuters

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