A blizzard warning was in place for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket beginning early Wednesday. Forecasters warned of wind gusts as high as 70 mph with near-zero visibility at times, including during the morning rush hour. As much as 10 inches of snow could fall there.
After months of back-to-back-to-back snowstorms, most Americans were ready to embrace spring when it began last week. But the feeling of relief turned to dismay Tuesday when it became clear winter wasn't going away quietly.
"I'm ready for summer," 25-year-old nurse Krystina Smith declared as she rode the subway in Boston. "It's April. When will it stop? I have to work tomorrow, and I don't want to have to shovel again before I go in."
The National Weather Service insisted the timing, though unwelcome, wasn't out of the ordinary.
"It is not unusual to have storms this late in the year," weather service spokesman Bill Simpson said, adding that April has seen quite a few big storms in the past. The Boston area got more than 2 inches of snow in an April storm last year and was blanketed with almost 2 feet the same month in 1997.
"The snowfall can go early or stay late," said William Babcock of the weather service. "When you are in New England, it all depends on the year."
A powerful low-pressure system was expected to develop off the Mid-Atlantic coast Tuesday night. Where and how much snow falls will depend on the storm's track. But wind and temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees below normal were expected to cover the Mid-Atlantic states and New England as the storm traveled from southern Virginia to Maine.
More than half a foot of snow was forecast to hit southeastern Massachusetts on Tuesday evening into Wednesday, and parts of coastal Maine could also see snow. The weather service also warned of coastal flooding and significant beach erosion along the Massachusetts coast.
On Cape Cod, the heaviest snowfall was expected early Wednesday, and that could make it a rough commute into work, Simpson said. Snowfall totals there could range from 5 to 10 inches.
Boston and northern Massachusetts could get 2 to 4 inches of snow, and coastal New Hampshire may see 1 to 2 inches. Areas west of Boston to Worcester are forecast to get about an inch.
"I can't wait for it to warm up," said 20-year-old Dajuan Davis, of Boston, a massage school student bundled up in a heavy jacket. "I'm from North Carolina. I'm not used to this cold weather.
Elsewhere, coastal Rhode Island, Connecticut and eastern Long Island in New York are expected to get 2 to 5 inches, while New York City is expected to get less than an inch. Portions of New Jersey and Pennsylvania could get 2 to 4 inches of snow.
Far eastern Maine could get 8 to 14 inches. Washington County, on Maine's eastern tip, could see wind gusts of 50 mph that will likely cause scattered power outages, said meteorologist Mike Kistner.
By Tuesday night, 3.8 inches of snow had fallen at Dulles International Airport, bumping the total for the season to 52.8 inches, said meteorologist Amy Bettwy in Sterling, Va. That tops the 50.1 inches that fell during the 2002 season, making this the unofficial third snowiest winter in the Washington area since record-keeping began in 1962, Bettwy said.
The precipitation in Washington and northern Virginia was expected to change over to rain by late evening.
The Northeast has had below-normal temperatures this spring. And, with Easter less than a month away, many people—and businesses—are ready to say so long to snow and frigid temperatures.
"Business has been down almost 10 percent," said Bill Zimmer, owner of multiple restaurants and hotels on the Cape. "Enough is enough."
Associated Press writers Paige Sutherland in Boston and Sarah Brumfield in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.