The biggest storm to hit the Northeast this winter pushed its way up the Philadelphia-to-Boston corridor with a potential for more than a foot of snow in places Thursday, making for a slippery morning commute and giving millions of people weather whiplash a day after temperatures soared into the 50s and 60s.
Commuters faced windblown snow and slick highways, numerous accidents were reported and more than 3,000 flights were canceled.
Schools were closed in most places, including New York City, Philadelphia and Boston, and government offices from the Philadelphia area to southern New England told most non-essential workers to stay home.
The National Weather Service said the Boston area and eastern Maine could get 12 to 18 inches of snow, and a blizzard warning was issued for Long Island. New York City could see 8 to 12 inches and the Philadelphia area 4 to 8 inches.
Forecasters also warned of high winds, coastal flooding and possible power outages.
“This is a pretty nasty storm. We’re doing our best to stay on top of it,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.
Governors throughout the region urged people to stay off the roads to keep them clear for plows and emergency vehicles.
By midmorning, Connecticut state police responded to about 30 accidents, and New Jersey’s emergency management office recorded about 50. No serious injuries were reported.
Bundled-up commuters in New York City carefully navigated snow-covered sidewalks. Blowing snow stung any exposed skin.
Sam Lopresti, of Jersey City, New Jersey, warm and dry in his workplace, said he was pleasantly surprised that his early-morning train trip into New York City had gone smoothly.
“I fully expected the MTA and PATH to curl into a ball and say, ‘Don’t hurt me!'” joked Lopresti, an actor and barista.
The storm came a day after much of the Northeast enjoyed a brief glimpse of spring, with record-breaking highs in some places. Temperatures then crashed more than 30 degrees as the storm rolled in.
The snow was expected taper off by early afternoon in the Philadelphia and New York City areas, while New Englanders braced for snowfall through the evening commute.