An early spring storm blanketed Champaign County in nearly 5 inches of snow and disrupted school schedules on Wednesday.
Battling wind chills of 18 degrees, local residents cleared roads, sidewalks and driveways after a Tuesday night of heavy precipitation that was followed by strong winds.
As the weather system moved out of Ohio, the East Coast prepared for yet another wintry pounding on the first full day of spring.
The fourth nor’easter in three weeks pushed in, with high winds and the potential for a foot or more of snow from West Virginia to New England. Accuweather reported there were hundreds of traffic accidents along the I-95 corridor on Wednesday afternoon.
Airlines canceled thousands of flights, and school districts throughout the Northeast canceled classes ahead of the storm that was expected to intensify in the afternoon, with heavy, wet snow likely to knock out power across the region. Shore towns were warned that coastal flooding is possible.
Snow started falling Tuesday night in West Virginia and Kentucky and continued through Wednesday morning, while mid-Atlantic states saw a wintry mix before the precipitation was to change over to all snow.
The National Weather Service said the storm had sharp gradients that could cause several inches to fall in some spots, while nearby areas could see far less accumulation.
Residents still frazzled from the last three recent storms said they were ready for this one, though many hoped it would be the last and give way to spring-like weather.
“I didn’t think I’d still need to keep storm stuff in my car in late March, but what are you going to do?” Wilson Collins said as he prepared to leave his Toms River, New Jersey, home on Wednesday morning, checking his trunk to make sure he had a shovel, a blanket and other emergency items. “I’m hoping most of the snow will accumulate just on the grass, but the roads will be a mess no matter what. I just hope this is finally it.”
National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Peterson said the latest storm is tough to call.
“It’s definitely a tricky forecast,” Petersen said. “We’re still expecting heavy snows throughout the region, but there could be lower numbers in some coastal areas where warmer temperatures are causing rain or more of a wintry mix.”
Residents were urged to stay home and off the roads, if possible, so crews can try to keep streets clear.
The flight-tracking site FlightAware reported more than 3,800 canceled flights across the U.S., most in the Northeast.
On the ground, Amtrak scaled back service on the Northeast corridor between Washington and Boston, and some states banned certain types of trucks from major highways.