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Winter ignores dawning of spring as snow socks Northeast, winds pound South

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

BOSTON — Snow and sleet blasted the Northeast on Tuesday — the last full day of winter — closing schools and turning roads into a slick mess that got the Harlem Globetrotters' bus into a minor accident.

Some places are expecting more than a foot of snow by the end of a storm, which commuters hope would be the last. Unwelcomed as it is, the snowstorm near the end of winter is not uncommon in the Northeast, where it can still get plenty cold enough.

“They don't happen all the time, but it's not, you know, unheard of,” said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass.

Some schools in upstate New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut were closed, adding a few more snow days to the calendar. Massachusetts officials postponed the English composition section of its standardized state test until next Monday to keep all schools on the same test date.

Late-winter snow also socked other parts of the northern United States, with as much as 2 feet forecast in parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Icy roads caused some crashes Tuesday morning in Michigan.

In Marlborough, Mass., the Harlem Globetrotters' bus collided with a car on Interstate 290, but no one was hurt, and the bus was able to drive away, state police said. No citations were issued.

A storm earlier this month dumped more than a foot of snow on some parts of the region and caused coastal flooding in Massachusetts, The snow from that storm was nearly gone in some places before the new system started overnight Monday. The snow continued Tuesday night in northern areas.

Nina Walker, of Woburn in suburban Boston, said she had to shovel about 8 inches of snow off her driveway before driving to Boston's South Station to take a train to New York. As a lifelong New Englander, she takes the snow in stride — but draws the line at storms after March 31.

“Once I hear the word April, I am really offended when I hear the word ‘snow,' ” she said. “So this is OK today, but a couple of weeks from now, it had better not happen!”

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 to 8 inches, and Hartford, Conn., could get 4 to 8 inches of snow and sleet by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a storm that hammered the Deep South could result in as many as 50,000 insurance claims in Mississippi alone, according to the state's insurance commissioner.

Much of the region was buffeted with straight-line winds of 50 to 75 mph — the low end of hurricane force — and pounded with hail that grew as large as baseballs in places.

State Sen. Dean Kirby said that based on previous storms and the estimates of how many claims there will be for this storm alone, he “wouldn't be surprised” if the damage reached $100 million in Mississippi. Kirby, has been in the insurance business for years.

About 71,000 customers were still without power across Alabama, a day after storms with the force of hurricane winds toppled trees and utility lines.

Alabama Power said the total was down from the 98,200 who were without power as of 6 a.m. Tuesday and less than half of the more than 222,000 customers left powerless after the Monday storms.

In Georgia, tens of thousands of people were left without power around the state and one man died when a tree fell on his vehicle, authorities said. At least one tornado was confirmed. The coroner said the victim was killed by the falling tree in Polk County on Monday as the line of powerful thunderstorms crossed from Alabama into Georgia.

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