NEW YORK/BOSTON (REUTERS) - A late-season snowstorm that swept the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States began to weaken on Wednesday (March 15) after closing schools, grounding flights and knocking out electricity supply to hundreds of thousands of consumers.
Snowfall brought by the rare mid-March "nor'easter" will slowly taper off over upstate New York and northern New England, a day after it dumped as much as 30cm of snow and blew at gale force in some areas, the National Weather Service said.
Millions of people living along the East Coast will face temperatures 10 to 25 degrees below average, wind gusts of 50kph and slick roads and sidewalks as they return to work and school on Wednesday, it added.
"Residual snow and slush will refreeze early this morning, resulting in hazardous conditions on roads and walkways," the service said in an advisory, urging extra caution by those venturing out early.
As life returns to normal for many, students in Boston Public Schools will have the day off as the city and environs continue to dig out from heavy snowfall.
Tuesday's storm capped an unusually mild winter that saw otherwise below-normal snowfall on much of the Atlantic Coast.
Snow fell from the lower Great Lakes and central Appalachians to the eastern seaboard, as far south as North Carolina.
Some cities, such as Washington DC and New York, got just several centimetres of snow, far less than the anticipated amounts that forced public officials to close schools, shut down commuter train routes and warn people to stay indoors on Tuesday.
Governors in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia declared states of emergency at the outset of the storm.
"Mother Nature is an unpredictable lady sometimes," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference on Tuesday. "She was unpredictable today."
More than 6,000 commercial airline flights across the United States were canceled for the day, said tracking service FlightAware.com. Utility companies reported widespread power outages, hitting more than 220,000 homes and businesses at the storm's peak.