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Winter storm pushes up East Coast, northern Maine could get six inches of snow

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
People walk in light snow flurries at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Dec. 8, 2013.
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff

Get ready for winter.

That’s the message from a meteorologist at the National Weather Service outpost in Caribou, who said Sunday afternoon that a low-pressure system moving from the west will bring as much as six inches of snow to northern Maine Monday, followed by bitter cold later in the week.

“It’ll be like mid-winter,” Mark Bloomer said of the cold front expected to arrive on Thursday and Friday, with highs in the single digits up north and in the low teens along the coast. “It looks like it’ll stay cold for awhile.”

On Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the northern portions of Piscataquis, Aroostook and Somerset counties, which are likely to see the most snow, Bloomer said. According to the weather service, the wintry system that has been bringing ice and cold to the southern states over the last few days will arrive in New England Sunday night and precipitation will start to fall in Maine early Monday morning.

“Precipitation will start off as snow everywhere, but may transition to sleet for southern areas and to rain near the coast,” the winter weather message from the National Weather Service read.

Drivers should prepare for snowy roads and limited visibility, the message stated.

The frigid winter storm that left hundreds of thousands of people without power in the Southeastern United States pushed up the East Coast on Sunday, with snow and ice threatening to snarl road travel and force another round of airline cancellations.

The massive storm system dropped between 3 and 6 inches of snow on West Virginia early Sunday before blanketing the Washington, D.C., metro area with its first accumulation of the season.

The storm was moving up the East Coast, with snow, sleet and freezing rain expected from Baltimore to north of Boston, according to the National Weather Service.

The system reached Philadelphia and New York City by Sunday afternoon and was expected to linger over the area through Monday morning’s rush hour commute.

The New York City Department of Sanitation issued a “snow alert” starting Sunday afternoon, and was preparing salt spreaders and plows to clear covered roads.

The expected 3 to 6 inches of snowfall in Philadelphia and New York City will be the first of the season, and comes about 10 days earlier than the average first snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters also warned of treacherous road travel from Kentucky and North Carolina all the way through New England.

Air travelers were also bracing for the worst, with airports in Philadelphia, Newark, New Jersey and New York City reporting delays.

“People attempting to catch Sunday afternoon and evening flights in or out of the mid-Atlantic are likely to experience delays and could be faced with a few cancellations. These flight disruptions will expand into New England Monday,” Accuweather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said in a statement.

Thousands of stranded travelers have been trapped in Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport since Friday, and major airlines scrubbed dozens of flights again Sunday, according to the FAA. Airlines canceled more than 400 flights Saturday.

North Texas was still shivering under below-freezing temperatures left behind after an ice storm slickened roads and knocked out power lines, leaving some 267,000 customers in without power at the height of the storm, according to utility provider Oncor.

The storm also battered Arkansas and Tennessee with ice, snow and zero-degree temperatures, leaving streets a slick and slushy mess across the region. At least three people were killed when their cars skidded off the road, authorities said.

A marathon for Saturday was canceled in Memphis, Tenn., due to icy conditions and the danger of falling tree limbs.

A hospital in Dickson County, Tenn., lost power and was running on generators.

The Arctic chill from the storm was so widespread that Western states, including Nevada, Washington and California, were slammed with snow, sleet and record-setting cold temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures in Jordan, Mont., fell to a record low of 42 degrees Fahrenheit below zero on Dec. 7, also the lowest temperature recorded for the country during the storm.

The cold weather system will leave the East Coast on Monday night, the National Weather Service said.

Victoria Cavaliere of Reuters contributed to this report.

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