John Bacon and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
It may not technically be winter yet, but don't tell that to the 50 million Americans in the northeastern U.S. who were saying hello Tuesday to another winter storm that was snarling commutes and travel schedules.
The storm brought rain to North Carolina, with the first snow falling in Washington around dawn. Commuters in the Washington, D.C., area were greeted with pounding snow, and the federal government shut its doors for the day.
"It's a fast moving storm but it's coming down hard," said AccuWeather meteorologist Mike Doll. "Some places will see 1-2 inches an hour."
Parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania could see the biggest snow totals. The National Weather Service was forecasting up to 7 inches of snow for Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Airports and airlines were scrambling. More than 1,000 flights had been canceled nationwide as of 9 a.m., according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.
At Newark Liberty, more than 230 flights (combined departures and arrivals) had been canceled as of 9 a.m. ET. More than 100 cancellations are being reported at a number of other busy airports in the region, including New York LaGuardia, Philadelphia and Washington Reagan National. Washington Dulles has about 90 cancellations, a number that was likely to grow as snow remains in the forecast there through early afternoon.
The National Weather Service was forecasting snow for the I-95 corridor from Washington to Boston, and issued winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings for Tuesday from southwestern Virginia to southern New England.
Weather service meteorologist Bruce Sullivan said the new storm will sweep in from the southwest and bring rain to the South and snow from Virginia to southern New England before it fades. The Baltimore-Washington area will get the worst of it, he said.
The storm is forecast to bring an average of 3 inches to most spots, but a few locations along the I-95 corridor can receive up to around 7 inches, the weather service said.
The snow will last an average of six to eight hours; cities such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Conn., Providence, R.I., and Boston should all see snow, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
This is bad news for air travelers following a dreadful day Monday, when 1,900 flights were canceled and another 8,100 delayed, according to flight-tracking company FlightStats.
Monday was a day to dig out after a swath of snow and ice plastered the landscape from Virginia to New England, causing highway pileups Sunday and disrupting commuters Monday morning.
The winter storms are being fueled in part by an Arctic blast of frigid air that froze highways in the middle of the country over the weekend. Frigid temperatures remained in place Monday for most of the north-central U.S., with many locations at or near 0 degrees. Minot, N.D., reached 5 degrees Monday afternoon, the city's first above-zero reading since last Wednesday.
Nationally, the USA is seeing an unusually snowy December: In all, 66.9% of the USA was snow covered as of Monday, according to data from the National Weather Service. That percentage was the highest for the date in at least the past 10 years.