Northeast braces for wintry wallop on 1st day of spring

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Spring? What’s that?

Yet another powerful storm bore down on the Northeast on Tuesday, with wind-whipped snow falling in parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey as people grumbled and complained about a first day of spring that looked an awful lot like the last weeks of winter.

Landscaping crews along the New Jersey coast tended to shrubs and plants at oceanfront homes, then packed up their garden tools to get ready to plow. Shore towns positioned bulldozers, front-end loaders and other heavy equipment to deal with beach erosion from a system that could dump up to 18 inches of snow elsewhere.

“It’s ridiculous,” Bob Burkhard of Toms River, New Jersey, said near the beach at Seaside Park. “First day of spring and we’re getting another snowstorm.”

The bulk of the snow and sleet was expected to wallop New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and parts of eastern Pennsylvania Wednesday before heading off to Nantucket off Cape Cod early Thursday, the fourth nor’easter to slam the region in three weeks.

In Philadelphia, where the snow blew horizontally on Tuesday, restaurant server Katy Halbeisen called the early-spring storm “pretty lame.”

“Yesterday I was walking around and saw little birds taking a bath and it looked like they were thinking it would be spring. So I feel bad for those little birds,” she said.

Dog walker Emily DiFiglia said she’d had enough of winter.

“I’m outside all day long. So having the weather constantly fluctuating has driven me a little mad,” she said on Philadelphia’s South Street. “Mother Nature, let’s get some warm weather!”

Schools canceled classes ahead of Wednesday’s storm, and Pennsylvania banned certain types of trucks from major highways starting Tuesday night. Hundreds of flights already were canceled.

Widespread power outages were possible, especially Wednesday, with gusts blowing up to 35 mph (56 kph).

The jet stream, the upper level river of air that guides weather, is stuck in a plunging pattern that brings plenty of moisture from the south up the East Coast, said Brian Hurley, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in Maryland.

Four nor’easters in three weeks is highly unusual, but it happens when a pattern locks in. And that’s happened, Hurley said.

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Parry reported from Seaside Park, New Jersey.

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