BOSTON - A last blast of winter blew through the Northeast on Tuesday, with snow and sleet delaying the start of school in some areas and making the morning commute an icy, slippery mess a day before spring starts.
The nasty weather led some schools in upstate New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut to close, adding a few more snow days to school calendars.
The winter storm that started overnight Monday and early Tuesday might even continue into Tuesday night for northern areas. Snow is expected to cover newly bare patches of ground and force people to gas up their snow blowers again on the last day of winter.
At Ashburnham True Value Hardware, in north-central Massachusetts, employee Andrew Stanley said he hadn't noticed extra sales of shovels and salt, though the National Weather Service forecast 7 to 19 inches of a mix of snow and sleet. He did hear a little grumbling, though.
"Everybody's about sick of winter," he said Monday.
But some were welcoming the forecast, as the coming storm looked to extend the ski season. Just a year ago this week, local temperatures hit the 80s, prompting skiers in Maine to strip down to shorts and bikini tops and forcing an end to the season at many mountains.
At Sugarbush Resort in Vermont, communications manager Patrick Brown said more snow now could make spring the best time of year for many.
"Skiers like both of those things: great sunny warm days and lots of snow," Brown said.
The forecasts called for as much as 20 inches of snow in parts of northern New England, with lesser amounts mixed with sleet further south. Boston and Providence, R.I., could each get 4-8 inches, and Hartford, Conn., 4-8 inches of snow and sleet. Portland, Maine, could get at least a foot of snow. Montpelier, Vt., was expecting at least 10 to 18 inches, and Concord, N.H., 7 to 13 inches. But those totals could go much higher if the storm continues into Tuesday night.
The likelihood of school cancellations Tuesday led Massachusetts officials to postpone the English composition section of its standardized state test until next Monday, to keep all schools on the same test date. Boston, which kept schools open for the most recent storm, cancelled classes for Tuesday.
After a storm earlier this month dumped over a foot of snow in some areas and caused coastal flooding in Massachusetts, some New Englanders weren't looking forward to more winter weather.
In downtown Concord, N.H., Jennifer Hutchins said: "I hate it ... I guess I like to watch it fall, but I don't like when it sticks around."
"I'm tired of it," said Paula Lochhead. "But we live in New Hampshire, what are you gonna do?"
Associated Press writers Clarke Canfield in Portland, Maine; Lisa Rathke in Montpelier, VT., and Morgan True in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.