Northeast braces for wintry wallop on 1st day of spring


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Spring? What's that?

Yet another powerful storm bore down on the Northeast today, with wind-whipped snow falling in parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey as people grumbled and complained about a first day of spring that looked an awful lot like the last weeks of winter.

Landscaping crews along the New Jersey coast tended to shrubs and plants at oceanfront homes, then packed up their garden tools to get ready to plow. Shore towns positioned bulldozers, front-end loaders and other heavy equipment to deal with beach erosion from a system that could dump up to 18 inches of snow elsewhere. Airlines canceled flights and schools canceled classes in what has become a dreary March routine.

"It's ridiculous," Bob Burkhard of Toms River, N,J., said near the beach at Seaside Park. "First day of spring and we're getting another snowstorm."

The bulk of the snow and sleet was expected to wallop New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and parts of eastern Pennsylvania on Wednesday before heading toward Cape Cod early Thursday, the fourth nor'easter to slam the region in three weeks.

In Philadelphia, where the snow blew horizontally on Tuesday, restaurant server Katy Halbeisen called the early-spring storm "pretty lame."

Cancellations mounted at airports from Washington to Boston – more than 500 on Tuesday and more than 1,600 Wednesday. On the ground, Amtrak said it would scale back service on the Northeast corridor and Pennsylvania banned certain types of trucks from major highways starting tonight.

Public and parochial schools in Philadelphia were to be closed Wednesday.

Widespread power outages were possible, especially Wednesday, with gusts blowing up to 35 mph.

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