Spring, where art thou? This snow's 'a little bit of a buzz kill'

Monday, March 25, 2013 - 10:25am

Wait a minute, didn't spring start last week?

Apparently not.

Folks in parts of a dozen states from Missouri to New Jersey and down to North Carolina and Tennessee are getting an ugly start to their work and school weeks -- unless they don't need to go to work or school.

All are under winter storm warnings Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Accumulations of up to 7 inches will be common in places like St. Louis, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. Some areas will receive a foot of snow.

Mix in blustery winds and it's a bit of a mess.

Time to break out the sleds

More than a foot of snow blanketed St. Louis on Sunday, making it the snowiest single March day ever in the Gateway City, and the second-snowiest day, no matter the month, dating back to 1892.

"I'm a little bummed out," St. Louis resident Mary Kelly said at the prospect of another snow day. "It's a little bit of a buzz kill."

Her son was excited though, getting a day off school with spring break scheduled to start Thursday.

"We'll break out the sleds again," she said. "We've got some pretty good sledding hills around here."

Still, the irony isn't lost on Kelly, who knows how changeable Midwestern weather can be.

"The good news is: It's St. Louis," she said. "Next weekend it could be 80 degrees."

Treacherous travel

The snow prompted flight cancellations and delays across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. FlightAware said more than 350 flights had been canceled Monday, after 500 cancellations were tallied nationwide on Sunday.

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport was hard hit on Sunday with 140 flights canceled, airport officials told CNN affiliate KTVI.

"Right now, it's just going to be a long day, sitting around waiting. I've had one flight canceled and then rerouted, and that's looking iffy if it keeps snowing," traveler Cathy Rutherford said to the affiliate.

Just to the northwest of St. Louis, in St. Charles, Missouri, the storm was causing problems for travelers on the road as well.

Cars struggled on hills that proved too much for some drivers.

"It's crazy. I'm just sick of all the snow. Like, I was so ready for it back at Christmas, but now I'm over it," motorist Jaci Nezum said to KTVI.

In Indianapolis, Mayor Greg Ballard told nonessential city employees that they didn't have to come into work until 1 p.m. because of the storm, affiliate WISH-TV reported. Dozens of school districts called off classes for the day.

Record-setting snow?

In several places, snow was accumulating in historic amounts.

Springfield, Illinois, witnessed an all-time single-day record of 17 inches on Sunday, in a city where records go back to 1881.

With up to 8 inches of snow expected in Pittsburgh, forecasters were talking about the rare, heavy spring snowfall.

"From a historical perspective, we've only had snow on the ground, this date or later, of 6 inches or more four times," Michael Fries with the National Weather Service told affiliate KDKA-TV.

The last time was in 1987, when 7.7 inches fell, setting the record for an early spring storm.

Monday's heavy snow could knock down trees and power lines.

"If you must venture out at all ... use extreme caution," the weather service warned.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Ski areas including West Virginia's Snowshoe Mountain Resort, 200 miles south of Pittsburgh, are hoping people venture out, and promising the "best March ski conditions in recent memory."

"Last year we had to close by now," Snowshoe spokesman David Dekema said Monday. "By this time, we were shut down. It was warm and raining."

But this year, he said, "it's looking like winter for the foreseeable future."

Snowshoe had been planning on closing this coming Sunday, the last day of March, but the prediction of snow through Thursday is forcing a reassessment.

"We're getting a lot of feedback and questions from our guests who don't want to let winter run out here, and we're having internal discussions about what's feasible," Dekema said. "With our best final weekend snow conditions and so much terrain open, some people want to keep it going and maybe make it into April."

Deep South cold

A deep-plunging Arctic cold front is fueling the storm system, and while the Southern states aren't expecting much snow, they were feeling winter's bite in blustery winds and chilly temps.

Large sections of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana shivered under freeze warnings, while temperatures in the 40s could be found in the Florida panhandle.

Wind advisories whipped Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Arkansas, making the unseasonably cold weather feel even worse.

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