A worker clears sidewalks of sleet in downtown Oklahoma City on March 2. / Sarah Phipps, AP
McLEAN, Va. ‚?? The latest snow and ice storm to howl through the Midwest, South and East was winding down Monday, but weary shovelers hoping the blast marked the end for this wicked winter could be sadly mistaken.
The Weather Channel reports that below- average temperatures are forecast for much of the eastern half of the USA this month, with the worst of the cold over the Great Lakes and Northeast. Above-average snowfall is also predicted for at least the first half of the month, the Climate Prediction Center says.
March is a transition month, said Lyle Alexander, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Va. "You can get summer-like temperatures, or you can get mid-winter-type weather," he said. "What's more unusual about this is the temperatures, especially the (near-record low) temperatures that are expected" Tuesday morning.
The latest storm was slowly moving off the Mid-Atlantic coast, though moderate to heavy snow was still falling in parts of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware and North Carolina. It was leaving bitter cold temperatures behind.
"Enough already," said Dave Shotwell of Neptune, N.J., as he scraped snow off his windshield in a grocery store parking lot.
Some of the top snow totals The Weather Channel reported as of midafternoon included 7.5 inches in Monrovia, Md.; 6.5 inches in Ashburn, Va.; 8 inches in Bargaintown, N.J.; and 4.3 inches in Pike Creek, Del.
The storm earlier blasted sleet across Texas into the Tennessee Valley. AccuWeather reported wind chills Monday morning of 4 degrees in Dallas and 2 degrees in Fort Worth. Hundreds of vehicles were reported stuck in ice and snow on Interstate 45 south of Dallas.
Tinesha Ladson said her brother was stuck on the freeway in Corsicana for 10 hours, adding that no authorities "checked on the drivers or the families stuck in cars."
Due to the cold, ERCOT (Texas' electric grid operator) was asking Texans to conserve energy, as all-time record March demand is expected because of the cold snap, AccuWeather said.
An "incredible" 6 inches of sleet was reported in Huntingdon, Tenn., with 4-6 inches of sleet common across northwestern Tennessee, AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydnowski said. Freezing rain left thousands of customers without power in Arkansas as of early Monday morning.
Record or near-record cold temperatures were also reported across portions of the Midwest, including Kansas City at -2 degrees and Tulsa at 4 degrees, the Weather Channel reported.
In the Washington area, schools already trying to make up for excessive snow days were again closed. Bus service was halted and most of the 300,000 federal government workers were told to stay home. All Smithsonian museums except the National Air and Space Museum were closed.
Thousands of flights were canceled across the U.S. on Monday, pushing the total since Saturday above 5,000, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.com. The bulk of the problems Monday were at airports in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. There are more than 30,000 flights in the United States on a typical day.
In Delaware, bands of snow and sleet spread out over most of the state during the pre-dawn hours Monday. The state hunkered down under a storm predicted to deliver as much as 10 inches of snow.
"The roads are not good," said Joseph Hopple, a Sussex County EMS spokesman. "We've had cars sliding off the road."
Some areas were not hit as hard as forecast. Asbury Park, N.J., saw only about an inch. Still, New Jersey was in a state of emergency, declared the night before by Gov. Chris Christie.
That, coupled with the blizzard-like forecast, once again spooked away business for Reenie Van Buren, who owns the Back In Time Caf√© at the Bradley Beach train station. The caf√© is normally open six days a week, but until last week that hadn't been the case in 2014, she said.
"It's killing me," said Van Buren, as she tended to a fresh-made kettle of potato leek soup.
A little snow normally bodes well for her business. In addition to the regular rail commuters, many others tend to opt for the train rather than a snowy drive to work, she said.
"But this winter, every storm has been so big nobody has gone out," Van Buren said. "It's a fine line, and we've crossed it every storm this year."
With spring less than three weeks away, Monday's dusting had many of the shore region's year-round residents ready to trade out their shovels for swim trunks.
"I'd like to get a suntan soon," said William Maciunski, 76, of Neptune, N.J. "It'll be right around the corner."
Racioppi writes for the Asbury Park Press. Contributing: Brian Shane, The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times; James Fisher, The News-Journal, Wilmington, Del.; WFAA-TV, Dallas
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