PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The second big, blustery storm to hit the Northeast in less than a week brought wet, heavy snow Wednesday to a corner of the country where tens of thousands of people were still waiting for the power to come back on from the first bout of wintry weather.
The nor’easter closed schools and government offices, grounded flights and raised fears of another round of fallen trees and electrical outages as it made its way up the East Coast.
A wintry mix of snow and light rain started falling before daybreak in many areas, but the precipitation was expected to turn soon to all snow in most areas and continue through the day.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning through Thursday morning from the Philadelphia area through most of New England. Forecasters said snow accumulations could easily surpass a foot in areas west of the Interstate 95 corridor, with some places in northwestern New Jersey expected to get up to 2 feet.
Hundreds of flights across the region were canceled even before the first flakes fell, and the number was expected to climb as conditions deteriorated.
The morning commute went smoothly in most areas, as the storm had not yet kicked into high gear. But motorists were urged to avoid travel so crews could treat and clear roads.
“I’m not looking forward to another round of this, but it is what it is,” Chris Martin said as he prepared to leave his Toms River, New Jersey, home and head to work at an information technology firm in Philadelphia. “All in all, it hasn’t been a terrible winter, and it seems that March is always our worst month for major storms. We’re a hardy bunch, so some snow and rain isn’t going to stop us.”
Martin had already arranged to stay in Philadelphia overnight.
“If Mother Nature wants to give us one last blast of winter, that’s up to her,” he said.
Heavy, wet snow and gusting winds could take down trees already weakened from last Friday’s storm and snap power lines, to the distress of customers who have gone days without power.
Utility workers took advantage of milder temperatures and sunshine Tuesday in their scramble to restore electricity around the Northeast. More than 90,000 homes and businesses remained without power Wednesday, mostly in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
More than a foot of snow was expected in some interior areas. Forecasters said Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains and parts of western Massachusetts could see up to 18 inches.
Some areas were bracing for as much as 2 to 3 inches of snow an hour.
Damaging winds were forecast, with gusts of up to 60 mph on Cape Cod, 45 mph at the Jersey shore and 30 mph around suburban Philadelphia.
Depending on the storm’s track, communities along the I-95 corridor could see heavy rain, heavy snow or a mix of the two.
Transportation departments in Philadelphia and Boston loaded up salt trucks and treated roads a day ahead.
Amtrak canceled some train service, and commuter trains in Philadelphia were put on a weekend schedule.
School districts and municipal operations around Pennsylvania and Connecticut closed. The governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania declared states of emergency.
Officials warned homeowners of the danger of heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow.
One slight consolation: The storm was not expected to bring coastal flooding like the one last week. Some New England and New Jersey shoreline communities were still dealing with the effects of that storm.
Associated Press writer Bruce Shipkowski, in Toms River, New Jersey, contributed to this story.