Snowstorm Buries Midwest, Northeast


NEWARK, N.J., Mar. 17 2004 (AP by Wayne Parry) -- A late-winter snowstorm blew out of the Midwest and into the Northeast on Tuesday, making driving treacherous and closing schools just four days before the start of spring.

Up to 10 inches of snow was forecast overnight in parts of Ohio, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and New Jersey was expecting 9 inches. A foot of snow was possible in upstate New York and Massachusetts.

As the storm was gathering strength, a record 18 inches fell Monday around Sioux City, Iowa. Illinois, Indiana and Michigan also picked up a few inches.

"I'm tired of this," Peg Woods said in Newton, N.J. "I just put my snow shovel away the other day."

Dayton, Ohio, had about 7 inches by late afternoon. The weather forced the closure of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to all but essential personnel. About 22,000 people work at the base.

Hundreds of Ohio schools canceled classes, and several districts closed early in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut as roads became wet and slippery.

"When we had those few warm days, I was really looking forward to spring being here," said Peter DeFelice, owner of the Flower Box florist shop in Sparta, N.J. "But if it's going to snow, then let it snow big. A lot of people are kind of excited about it here, looking forward to a snow day. At least my kids are."

Newark had nearly 5 1/2 inches of snow before it turned to rain Tuesday night. Flights at the city's airport were delayed by up to 90 minutes, and more than 100 flights were canceled.

The snow was expected to reach Maine during the night, and ski areas welcomed it more for the psychological effect than for any additional cover on their slopes.

"Once you get into this month with milder stretches and people are out starting to focus on other activities -- jogging, shopping, thinking about golfing or hiking -- it's hard to keep skiing on their minds," said Susan DuPlessis, spokeswoman for the Sunday River ski resort near Bethel, Maine.

Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press