A broad, muscular winter storm carried severe, sometimes deadly conditions into the Midwest and Northeast, shutting schools and stranding travelers as it brought coatings of snow, sleet and rain.
While snow plows and salt-spreaders were pressed into service, schoolchildren reveled Friday in a Presidents Day weekend made longer by the harsh weather as classes were either canceled or dismissed early.
The weather also made traveling difficult, causing numerous flight delays and snarling traffic, leading to several deaths.
Up to a foot of snow was recorded in parts of eastern New York with lesser amounts in other states. Nine inches of snow were recorded in parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska; 6 inches in parts of Massachusetts and 4 inches in areas of northern Ohio and New Hampshire.
South of the snow, heavy rain fell across portions of Kentucky, southern Indiana, southern Ohio, and West Virginia. An inflatable boat capsized during a rescue effort along a swollen creek outside Charleston, W.Va., leaving one person dead and two presumed drowned. Four others were rescued.
The weather system also spawned tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that moved from central Arkansas into the Mississippi Delta, damaging more than 100 homes and leaving eight with minor injuries. High winds and rain in Tennessee destroyed a mobile home and downed some power lines and trees, but no injuries were reported. Golf-ball sized hail was reported in the Little Rock, Ark. area.
The snowy weather to the north was blamed for several deaths, mostly from traffic accidents on slickened roads.
One driver was killed when her car spun out of control and hit an oncoming car in Portage, Wis., and a trucker was killed as his tractor-trailer jackknifed in Lawrenceville, N.J. In Harrisburg, Pa., where 3 inches of snow fell, a multivehicle accident also left a Virginia couple dead.
''The snow was coming down, visibility was bad and it was slippery,'' said Linette Quinn, a Pennsylvania state trooper.
Elsewhere, skies were as inaccessible as they were threatening. Chicago's airports saw nearly 300 flights scrubbed due to poor visibility and wet and icy snow, and Northwest Airlines canceled 156 flights scheduled to arrive or depart Friday from Detroit.
Flights also were canceled Friday in Newark, N.J., Philadelphia and Boston. Airlines expected delays to continue today, though no cancellations were immediately expected.
While New York City residents slogged through slushy streets, the storm was merciful on two of the state's snowiest spots -- Syracuse and Buffalo. Despite forecasts of a foot or more of snow, residents in those cities escaped with as little as 4 inches.
In the Albany, N.Y., suburb of Colonie, Amy Benson loaded her shopping cart full of canned soup, hot chocolate mix and marshmallows to brave the improved but still cold conditions still forecast for the weekend.
''I figure the kids will want to play outside in the snow,'' she said, ''so I'd better have all the right stuff to warm them up when they come inside and are all wet and bright pink.''
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