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'It's supposed to be spring': Cold, snowy weather causing March sadness

It’s the winter that wouldn’t die.

Five days into spring, a winter storm raked the Midwest and Northeast on Monday, turning commutes messy and threatening to dump up to 4 inches of snow around Philadelphia and Washington.

The good news: Temperatures hovering at or just above freezing should hold accumulations down.

“The roads are in pretty good shape this morning because, after all, it is March,” Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel said from Frederick, Md.

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During the morning drive, the storm was dropping snow across a curlicue swath of the country, from the Mid-Atlantic coast back through the southern Great Lakes and down into the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky and Tennessee.

In New York and parts of New Jersey, a winter weather advisory was in effect for most of Monday, and snow and rain showers continued through late afternoon and wind down by early evening.

"I'm ready for flip flops," said Jessica Cunitz, 24 of Westchester County, N.Y., who stopped at a gas station along Interstate 78 in Pennsylvania to fill her overheating car with antifreeze. "It's supposed to be spring."

In Philadelphia, rain during the morning commute was expected to change to a wintry mix that will last for most of the day. Untreated roads could turn slippery, said Brittney Shipp, a meteorologist for NBC affiliate WCAU.

And in Hamburg, Pa. — which has seen three here-and-gone snowfalls in little more than a week — carpet installer Seth Hanna drank coffee and surveyed the slush from a covered front porch.

"We got these warm days a few weeks ago, and everybody got their hopes up. March is supposed to be out like a lamb but it's not doing it," said Hanna, 30. "I love the snow, but I'm ready for some warm spring weather."

Inside the Washington Beltway, forecasters called for a mix of rain and snow, with accumulations of less than an inch. North and west of the capital, 2 to 4 inches of snow was expected — and perhaps as much as 8 inches west of Interstate 81.

Over the weekend, the same storm system pounded parts of the Rocky Mountains east to the Ohio Valley. Denver got almost a foot of snow, and Goodland, Kan., reported 15 inches.

On Friday, a qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup outside Denver was played in near-blizzard conditions — so much snow that officials had to bring in a yellow-and-purple soccer ball.

The United States beat Costa Rica 1-0, and Costa Rica has asked the governing body of soccer to order a replay.


At the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, people waiting in line for tickets to this week's arguments on gay marriage held umbrellas or put tarps over their belongings as the snow fell. Darienn Powers wore a trash bag from the waist down to keep dry, but said the snow still made everything "a little wet and uncomfortable."

The spring snow was not expected to affect Washington's famous cherry blossoms. National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said the flowering trees are still expected to reach peak bloom between April 3 and April 6.

Mitchell Gaines, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., said colder-than-normal temperatures the past few weeks had created conditions ripe for snow.

"It's fairly late in March to see a system like this," he said.

And the untimely blast of cold and snowy conditions could also harm parts of the U.S. winter wheat growing area, with widespread freeze damage feared in some of the more mature fields, experts said.

"I think we'll certainly have some (freeze damage)," said Travis Miller, an agronomist at Texas A&M University. "We did not dodge a bullet. It is a mess out there, both from freeze and drought."

It will take several days after the freeze passes to determine the extent of plant-tissue damage, wheat experts said, with areas where wheat fields were maturing quickly seen suffering the most harm. 

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story