An unpredictable winter storm that buried parts of the Midwest andMid-Atlantic regions with snow but barely laid a glove on Washington wasbound early Thursday for New England, where it was expected to bringstrong winds, more snow and the possibility of coastal flooding to NewEngland.
Sera Congi of CBS station WBZ-TV in Boston reported on "CBS ThisMorning" Thursday that this storm is expected to be a long one --lasting 36 hours, through three high tide cycles -- with as much as 8inches of snow in some areas of New England.
Waves and winds are expected to batter the coastline. Coastal floodwarnings are in effect and at least two towns have already urgedresidents to evacuate before Thursday morning's high tide, Congi said.
"It will snow on and off, heavy at times today, tonight, and alsothrough a good portion of tomorrow," said meteorologist Jeff Berardelliof CBS station WFOR-TV.
The storm marched into the Mid-Atlantic region Wednesday, dumpingnearly 2 feet of snow in some places and knocking out power to about250,000 homes and businesses. It largely spared the nation's capital,which was expecting much worse and had all but shut down.
Officials in Washington didn't want a repeat of 2011, when arush-hour snowstorm stranded commuters for hours, so they told people tostay off the roads and gave workers the day off.
The storm's no-show in Washington came after it pummeled the nation'smidsection Tuesday, killing at least four people in weather-relatedtraffic accidents. More than 1,100 flights were canceled Tuesday atChicago's two airports alone, and hundreds more were canceled Wednesdayin Washington, Philadelphia and New York.
As the storm moved up the coast Wednesday night, it brought heavywinds to the Jersey Shore, still reeling from superstorm Sandy. Streetsin Sea Bright, N.J., were flooding Thursday morning.
The National Weather Service was predicting up to 7 inches of heavy,wet snow in southeastern Connecticut through Friday morning and windgusts that could hit 50 mph, bringing possible power outages. A coastalflood warning was in effect starting Thursday morning for east-facingshores in Massachusetts, with up to a 3-foot surge at high tide in someareas. Central Massachusetts was bracing for 4 to 8 inches of snow,while early predictions were that Boston would get less.
InWashington, where as much as 10 inches had been forecast, the storm didlittle but drop harmless snowflakes that rapidly melted amidwarmer-than-expected temperatures. Federal offices in the region were toreopen Thursday.
"They just say that it might snow and the whole city shuts down,"said Sheri Sable, who was out walking her two dogs in light rain andmarveled at how even the dog park she frequents failed to open at 7 a.m.
There were bigger problems elsewhere in the region, though.
In Maryland, the Coast Guard said one man was rescued and two menwere missing after a fishing vessel became disabled 15 miles east ofAssateague Island. The Coast Guard received a radio beacon alert around10:40 a.m. Wednesday from the Seafarer. Officials say the ship hadbecome disabled and its sister ship was towing it.
The Coast Guard sent a helicopter to the area and rescued a man from alifeboat. But authorities were searching for two other men reportedmissing. Late Wednesday, the Coast Guard suspended the search untilsunrise Thursday.
On the Jersey Shore, winds raked the beachfront in Point PleasantBeach, blowing drifts of sand onto Ocean Avenue, and shredding thedecorative entrance canopy at a hotel across the street from the beach.
Lashing winds also blew off part of the roof of a Stone Harbor, N.J.,condominium complex and Ocean City officials advised residents to movetheir cars to higher ground in preparation of possible flooding.Maryland's Bay Bridge, which connects Maryland's Eastern shore with theBaltimore-Washington region, was temporarily closed in both directions,because of wind gusts of up to 60 mph.
"The travel on the bridge was extremely scary," interior designerKelly Kiley said after a tractor trailer overturned and leaned against aguardrail. "The crosswinds were terrible. Some of the taller box truckswere swaying."
In North Carolina, state officials said high winds led to sound sideflooding along N.C. 12 and brought the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry run to ahalt.
In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency andabout 50 National Guard soldiers were sent out to help clear roads. Upto 20 inches of snow piled up in central and western parts of the state.More than 200,000 people in Virginia alone lost power and another40,000 in New Jersey were left in the dark. Hundreds of wrecks werereported around the region.
The storm dumped 2 feet of snow in parts of neighboring WestVirginia, closing schools in more than half the state and leaving morethan 20,000 customers without power.
In Pennsylvania and Ohio, many areas had 4 to 6 inches of snow. Theweather service issued a winter storm warning for the Philadelphia areaand parts of central Pennsylvania through Thursday morning.
Downtown Washington was unusually quiet Wednesday. Officials eager toavoid a repeat of 2011 pre-emptively shut down federal offices andcanceled public schools. Non-emergency federal employees were treated toa paid snow day for the number of hours they were scheduled to work.
Some congressional hearings were postponed, but the House ofRepresentatives managed to approve legislation to prevent a governmentshutdown on March 27 and President Barack Obama had dinner with GOPsenators at a hotel Wednesday night.
The storm has led to at least four deaths. A semi-trailer slid off asnow-covered interstate in western Wisconsin, killing two people. Acentral Indiana woman died when a semi-trailer plowed into her car aftershe lost control merging onto the highway, and a man from Columbia Cityin northeast Indiana was killed when his snowmobile left the road,headed across a field and crashed into a wire fence.