The snowstorm that buried central and southern Illinois only skirted Chicago as it headed east -- and with it maybe the last of an unusual winter that seemed would never end.
The storm dropped 17 inches of snow in Springfield, breaking the old record of 2.4 inches for March 24 set in 1947. The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign cancelled Monday classes because students had trouble getting back to campus after spring break, according to the National Weather Service.
Roads remained hazardous south of Chicago, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Stretches of interstates 55, 57 and 70 were reported covered in ice or snow through central Illinois.
In the Chicago area, snowfall totals were more in 1- to 3-inch range, but the temperatures still look more wintry than springlike, with today's high predicted for the mid-30s. But temperatures will plunge to the 20s tonight and there remains a chance for snow flurries near the lake and in the west suburbs, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley. Any accumulation will be minor, less than an inch.
"... We've got temperatures in the mid-50s for Saturday and Sunday. That's not so bad," said Seeley, who indicated there was a chance for rain Saturday night and Sunday as well.
The Chicago Weather Center said the weekend storm is likely the last "significant" storm of a winter that saved its punch for February and March instead of December and January. And with temperatures expected to rise into the 50s by the weekend, the string of consecutive days of below-normal temperatures may come to an end.
The long-term forecast may be a little less positive – temperatures below average and precipitation above average over the next 8-14 days, according to WGN-TV meteorologist Tim McGill.
But things are looking up for mid-April, with the possibility of some temperatures above normal. According to the Climate Prediction Center, we should see above normal temperatures for April, May and June, Seeley said. The average for April is 48.9 degrees. Above normal precipitation is also expected, she said.
Meanwhile on the East Coast, the National Weather Service had winter storm warnings in effect from Massachusetts to South Carolina, with as much as 10 inches recorded in mountainous parts of West Virginia and up to a foot expected in Pittsburgh.
"Right now the eastern suburbs of (Washington) D.C. are still seeing moderate it snow and it's extending up through Baltimore and into northeastern Maryland," said Heather Sheffield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Virginia. She said the storm was moving north and snow showers were expected through the day.
Some 448 flights in the United States had been canceled, mostly in the New York City area, according to FlightAware.com.
Winter's stubborn persistence on the fifth day after the official start of spring has started to take a toll on some parts of the country. Last week an Ohio prosecutor said he would like to charge Punxsutawney Phil, the prognosticating groundhog who in February called for an early spring, with fraud.
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