msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/31/2011 4:48:46 PM ET 2011-03-31T20:48:46

A no-joke April Fools' snowstorm swirled toward the Northeast Thursday, a cruel prank on a region that was finally seeing a reprieve from its long, white winter.

The spring snowstorm was expected to hit late Thursday and last into Friday morning — April Fools' Day — dropping up to a foot of snow in some areas including northwest New Jersey, eastern New York and around New England.

The timing could make for a messy Friday morning commute.

Storm warnings were up around the region, and parts of New Jersey and New York's Hudson Valley and Catskills could see 5 to 10 inches. Up to 8 inches were possible in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains.

High-altitude areas of central Vermont could get up to a foot of snow.

Coastal parts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut were expected to get mostly rain, or wet snow that won't accumulate.

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"Major travel disruption over a wide area is possible," Weather Channel meteorologist Tim Ballisty said. "Strong winds and the wet, heavy nature of snow may lead to power outages in the area covered by the winter storm warnings."

Ballisty said the storm was expected to be "mainly a rain event for the major cities along the I-95 corridor" south of Boston.

No snow was expected in New York City, but the National Weather Service said commuters could see a rain-snow mix Friday morning.

The storm caps a particularly brutal winter for the region, with many cities setting record or near-record snowfalls.

But it's not all bad news, at least not for some skiers in western Pennsylvania.

Anna Weltz, a spokeswoman for Seven Springs Mountain Resort, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the resort will reopen for Saturday only to cash in on the new snow. The resort 45 miles southeast of Pittsburgh had already closed for the season.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Video: Extreme weather rocks East Coast

Data: Wild Nor’easter

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