PUBLISHED: 11:39 EST, 22 April 2012 | UPDATED: 12:06 EST, 23 April 2012
A spring nor’easter packing soaking rain and high winds churned up the Northeast on Monday morning, unleashing a burst of winter and up to a foot of snow in higher elevations inland, closing some schools and sparking concerns of power outages.
Just when winter appeared to be over, Jack Frost made an unexpected appearance in the Northeast, as late-season snow fell – and parts of New England faced the threat of flooding.
‘It’s unusual, but not unheard of,’ said Kevin Fitzgerald, a National Weather Service meteorologist in State College, Pennsylvania, where the eastern part of the state saw rain, and the west, northwest and higher elevations dealt with snow.
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Nature: Snow blankets daffodils in Saranac Lake, New York, on Monday morning, left, while ice coats tulips along Milestrip Road in Orchard Park, New York, right
After a milder-than-normal winter in most of the country, snow fell late Sunday from the mountains of West Virginia to the southern shores of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania and New York, with as much as one to two feet expected over the next 36 hours.
Up to 12 inches of snow was expected in the higher elevations of central and western Pennsylvania, as well as New York state, south of Buffalo. A winter storm warning was issued for parts of northeastern Ohio, where three to seven inches of snow was forecast.
Some schools in western Pennsylvania were closed on Monday morning ahead of the storm. Districts in the state’s Allegheny Mountains began announcing closures on Sunday night as the storm was expected to drop five to seven inches of snow by early Tuesday morning.
Much of New Hampshire and western Maine were under a flood watch Monday with more heavy rain expected. Up to two to three inches of rain is expected in the area, with the possibility of some creeks and rivers flooding.
However, flood watches were canceled early Monday for the New York City area and in New Jersey.
Sustained winds of 20-30 mph were predicted throughout the Northeast, and gusts of up to 50 mph were expected off Cape Cod, Matthew Belk of the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass., said late Sunday.
One of the biggest concerns with the storm was the potential for power outages due to limbs and branches weighed down by heavy snow falling onto power lines.
Buffalo-based weather service meteorologist Sean Smith said the slow-moving storm could linger of the Northeast through Monday before moving out sometime Tuesday.
Storm front: This NOAA satellite image shows clouds covering the east coast as the strong low pressure system strengthens over the Southeast
The Sunday storm caused plenty of disruptions. Major League Baseball postponed games in Boston, New York and Washington. The scheduled arrival of the space shuttle Enterprise in New York City was pushed back, and an Earth Day celebration at a park in Virginia Beach, Va., was canceled.
In Buffalo, New York, 3 to 6 inches of snow were expected over the period, said Bob Hamilton, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo.
He said there could be power outages from the wet, heavy snow on power lines. ‘It’s going to cause some damage, no question about that,’ Hamilton said.
With the storm came a spate of disruptions. Pro baseball games were postponed in New York and Washington.
The space shuttle Enterprise’s scheduled arrival in New York City at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum was pushed back due to the weather.
The trip involves the shuttle being attached atop a carrier aircraft and then moved by barge for the final leg of the journey
Meanwhile in the Southwest, residents are experiencing record-breaking temperatures hitting the high 90s and triple digits today and tomorrow.
Mother Nature is bringing searing heat to cities including Phoenix, Yuma and Las Vegas today.
Typically the first 100-degree reading in Phoenix comes around May 2 but that mark is expected to be reached tomorrow.
The unusually hot weather is also spreading into the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys of California and Oregon could have record high temperatures too.
The National Weather Service warned of flooding across southern New England as heavy rain was expected to continue falling through the night.
It issued a flood watch for parts of northern Connecticut, Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and Rhode Island, according to its website.
Raging rain: From Philadelphia north through New York City and into southern New England up to 4 inches of rain could fall, with the heaviest downpour expected early Monday
Late season storms are unusual, but not unheard of, in the Northeast, Hamilton said.
‘It happens every 15 years or so. It’s something you deal with when you live in this part of the country,’ he said.
‘We’re down 7 or 8 inches,’ weather service forecaster Charlie Foley said. ‘This won’t completely wipe out the deficit but it will certainly help’.
Even Lake Champlain on the Vermont-New York border, normally close to flood stage this time of year because of rain and snowmelt, is near a record low.
Just a year ago, it approached its highest level on record.
The storm’s biggest threat is likely power outages caused by falling trees and limbs bringing down power lines, said meteorologist John Darnley.
Another unseasonable nor’easter last year just before Halloween dumped up to 2 feet of wet, heavy snow that snapped tree limbs and power lines, and knocked out power to more than 3 million customers in the Northeast.
Heavy rain that hit Florida in the last few days is moving north and is expected to meet with cold air coming south from Canada.
Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania experienced thunderstorms on Saturday night but forecasters have predicted the worst of this spring storm is yet to come.
‘It’s going to be a very, very intense Nor’easter,’ forecaster Michael Eckert, from the National Weather Service based in Camp Springs, Maryland, told Msnbc.
Snowfall is expected across the Appalachians in West Virginia and central Pennsylvania tonight before it heads to the Buffalo, New York, area on Monday.
Experts have warned that the snow is likely to be heavy and wet making tree and power line damage a likelihood.
Forecasters say two to three or even four inches of rain will be coming to parts of eastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey tonight through early Monday.
Meteorologist John Darnley says the storm’s biggest threat is likely power outages caused by falling trees and limbs bringing down power lines.
Meteorologist Greg Heavener of the National Weather Service says some local flooding is possible along smaller rivers and creeks.
In Connecticut, it broke a state record for the number of power company customers left in the dark by a single storm that had been set only two months earlier when the remnants of Hurricane Irene slammed the state as it barreled up the Eastern Seaboard.
The worst of the flooding from Irene was in Vermont and northern New York, where clean-ups continue seven months later.
Farmers are still grappling with crop-smothering rocks, trees, gravel and sand left behind when the flood waters receded.
But the dry weather has eased the threat the debris that litters the landscape will rush downriver again.
Farther south, light rain was falling Sunday over the Baltimore and Washington metro areas and was expected to intensify throughout the day, said meteorologist Carrie Suffren, who warned drivers to beware of low visibility and slick roadways.
She cautioned boaters on the Chesapeake Bay of the winds.
In Florida, a woman had to be rescued Saturday night during thunderstorms after disappearing while out on Tampa Bay.
She was unfamiliar with her watercraft and also unfamiliar with the bay and got stuck on an island, the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
Officers found her soon after she was reported missing, as severe thunderstorms loomed overhead and she frantically called for help.
In Rockport, Massachusetts, the approaching storm forced authorities to halt until Tuesday a search for a missing 2-year-old girl who apparently disappeared from a beach Thursday when her mother went to retrieve a lost ball. The beach is known for strong riptides.
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