April nor'easter may bring more rain, snow to region

After months of unseasonable warm weather, a powerful, late season nor’easter is riding the East Coast and is expected to bring more rain and cooler temperatures to the D.C. region and snow to parts of western Maryland.

Forecasters predict that areas in western Maryland will get at least six inches of the heavy, wet stuff Monday with wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour. In the metro area, they say temperatures will fall into the upper 30s to middle 40s with increasing winds.

A winter storm watch has been posted for Garrett and western Allegany counties in Maryland for Monday.

At least 60 salt trucks with snow plows are standing by - and more will be added, if needed.

There are concerns that the snow could be heavy and wet enough to weigh down trees, which could cause power outages.

The system has already drenched areas from the Florida Keys to New England as several states remain under a flood watch.

"April showers bring May flowers," quipped Ida Donner, D.C. resident.

The dip in temperatures has people digging back in their closets for winter gear.

"The whole last week it was pretty steady weather,” Jessica Musselman, student. “Everybody was wearing shorts and flip flops and now we have to bring out our winter jackets again.”

"Very bizarre,” said Carmen Brennan, Mt. Savage resident. “We're usually used to it. We always have crazy weather here. That's why they call it Frostburg.”

In western Maryland, it's not only cold rain but also the potential for some snow in April.

{ }"It's unusual, but not unheard of," said Kevin Fitzgerald, a National Weather Service meteorologist in State College, Pa., where the eastern part of the state saw rain, and the west, northwest and higher elevations dealt with snow.

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 3 to 7 inches of snow was forecast.

Some schools in western Pennsylvania were closed Monday morning ahead of the storm.

Districts in the state's Allegheny Mountains began announcing closures Sunday night as the storm was expected to drop 5 to 7 inches of snow by early Tuesday morning.

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.

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.

The rainfall was a welcome in parts of the Northeast, which is below normal for this time of year.

"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."

Officials said the rain should go a long way toward alleviating drought conditions, which have helped spark several major brush fires in recent weeks. 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.

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.

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 cleanups 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, the rain intensified throughout the day Sunday over the Baltimore and Washington metro areas, where drivers were warned drivers to beware of low visibility and slick roadways.

Boaters on the Chesapeake Bay were cautioned about the winds. In Rockport, Mass., the 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.

Authorities in New York also suspended work that began last week on digging up a basement in a search for the remains of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979 on his walk to his school bus stop. The search was to resume Monday.