Just days away from spring, a powerhouse snowstorm will bury parts of the Northeast overnight as sleet, wind and plunging temperatures pave the way for a treacherous morning commute, forecasters said Wednesday.
Northern Vermont, New Hampshire and much of Maine are expected to get 18 to 24 inches by the time the fast-moving storm passes through Thursday afternoon, said National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Pereira.
In New Hampshire and Vermont, ski resorts were anticipating the snow, while some school districts gave students a half-day Wednesday as about an inch began accumulating around noon.
Parts of upstate New York, which were getting slammed by blizzard-like conditions Wednesday, could see up to 18 inches of snow through Thursday, forecasters said.
As the snow started falling late Wednesday afternoon New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in 14 upstate counties, allowing state workers to go home early.
"It's a wet, heavy snow, which makes it all the more difficult to move, even with plows," Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan told NBC station WETM of Elmira. "Even more onerous for shovels."
The storm has been moving east from the Midwest, where up to 7 inches of flakes fell overnight Tuesday and Wednesday morning. More than 900 flights in the region were canceled, according to the aviation tracker FlightAware.
Southeastern Michigan and Detroit saw several inches of snow late Wednesday, shuttering hundreds of schools. The National Weather Service reported 9.3 inches of the white stuff in Holly, a village northwest of Detroit, while the northeastern Detroit suburb of Mount Clemens saw 8.9 inches of accumumulation.
More than 900 flights in the Midwest were canceled, according to the aviation tracker FlightAware.
More than 700 of the cancellations were at the two major airports in Chicago, where the new snow pushed the city's total this winter to the third-highest on record, NBC Chicago reported.
In Ohio, two massive pileups involving 50 vehicles about 10 miles apart left at least two people dead and a state trooper seriously injured on the snowy Ohio Turnpike.
Elsewhere in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic, a brief, spring-like break this week won’t be hanging around. Boston could see about an inch of snow by Thursday, Pereira said.
"Even areas that aren't impacted by the winter weather will certainly see an abrupt change in temperatures in the next 24 hours," he added. "The cold air will rush in behind it."
New York City, which saw a high in the 60s on Tuesday and in the 50s on Wednesday, will fall to 23 degrees Thursday.
And Washington, D.C., which reached a balmy 67 degrees Wednesday, will fall to 36 degrees Thursday.