NEW YORK — Schools closed, governments sent workers home early and planes were grounded Wednesday in an all-too-familiar routine along the East Coast as another snowstorm swept over a region already beaten down by a winter not even half over.
"I fell three times trying to get off the steps," commuter Elliot Self said after leaving an elevated train in Philadelphia. "I just want the snow to stop. I want the sun again. I want to feel just a little bit of warmth."
Northwest of Philly, in Hatfield Township, Pa., residents were scared Wednesday night by blinding lightning in a rare thundersnow, a thunderstorm with heavy snow instead of rain.
Throughout the day, millions of people got that oh-no-not-again feeling as the wet and sloppy storm engulfed the Northeast, where snowbanks in some places were already so high that drivers couldn't see around corners.
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Classes were called off and commutes were snarled from Tennessee to New England as cars and buses slipped and slid on highways. The New York area's airports, among the nation's busiest, saw hundreds of delayed or canceled flights. Pedestrians struggled across icy patches that were on their way to becoming deep drifts.
Kentucky had half a foot of snow by Wednesday morning. Eight to 12 inches of snow was forecast for New York City, which had already seen 36 inches of snow this season in comparison with the full-winter average of 21 inches. New Jersey and Philadelphia could get up to 8 inches, and high winds are expected before the storm moves out early today.
Rain drenched the nation's capital for most of the day and changed to sleet before it started snowing in earnest at midafternoon. Washington was expected to get up to 10 inches of snow.
Since Dec. 14, snow has fallen eight times on the New York region — or an average of about once every five days. That includes the blizzard that dropped 20 inches on the city and paralyzed travel after Christmas.