BOSTON (Reuters) - A quick-moving winter storm blanketed New England with enough snow on Friday to wreak havoc with the morning commute and shut down area schools, while bitter cold enveloped the Midwest.
Between four and seven inches of snow were on the ground in parts of Connecticut, with expectations overall of four to eight inches of snow across New England, said Bill Simpson with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass.
Even in hardy Massachusetts, nearly 600 school districts across the state canceled classes, said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Peter Judge. While Boston’s Logan International airport was open, Boston declared a snow emergency.
Meteorologists with AccuWeather.com forecast the snow to taper off during the afternoon around Boston and Providence.
The Midwest was gripped by bitter cold weather and authorities warned people to seek shelter. In Chicago, where Chinese President Hu Jintao was in the final day of his U.S. visit, a wind chill advisory was in effect as the temperature dipped to only one degree Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -11. Minneapolis was -11 not including the wind chill and Fargo, North Dakota was -12.
Five inches of snow fell overnight in Pittsburg.
“When it’s icy and it snows like this, it’s difficult,” said Solomon Horvitz, who makes deliveries for a bakery. “There’s a lot of hills here, so it makes it tough.”
New York City was spared, for the most part, getting an inch of snow or so in the early morning hours.
Snow and ice conditions affected highways and streets around Albany and New York City, with more severe conditions in the suburbs north of New York City.
Mass transit was running smoothly for the most part, although some buses were delayed by wintry conditions on roads coming into New York City from Long Island, authorities said.
Snowfall from late Thursday caused headaches for area schools systems, many of which have used up planned snow days and are being forced to adjust the school calendar.
The Midwest cold will move to New England this weekend with temperatures dipping to the lowest in the last couple years, but not record lows, said Greg Forbes, a severe weather expert with the Weather Channel.
Wind chills near zero were forecast for the New York City region late Friday into early Saturday and again late Saturday into early Sunday, the National Weather Service said.
And a major storm is looming for next week, said Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.com.
The storm was likely to roll across the Midwest and South, hitting the Atlantic Coast on Monday and Tuesday, where it will encounter the frigid air mass, he wrote on the AccuWeather.com web site.
It is too early to tell if the storm might bring “heavy snow and potentially blizzard conditions” to the Northeast or head out to sea, he wrote.
“It is certainly a storm to watch, as either way it goes will cause problems for millions of people,” Sosnowski said. “Certainly contemplating backup plans for travel and alternatives to activities may be in order at this time from the central Plains to the interior South.”
Additional reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Daniel Lovering in Pittsburgh, Ellen Wulfhorst in New York, Editing by Greg McCune