NEW YORK (AP) — A sprawling storm closed schools, snarled travel and threatened homeless people Wednesday with snow and cold stretching from the Midwest to the East Coast and with heavy rain in the South.
Snow fell in New York City, and schools in several parts of the U.S. closed amid predictions for messy afternoon commutes. Philadelphia closed city offices as of 1 p.m. and put a "code blue" into effect, putting extra teams out to encourage homeless people to get into shelters.
New Jersey's governor declared a state of emergency with up to 4 inches of snow expected before turning to rain Wednesday night. State and local government offices in Delaware closed early.
Nationwide, more than 2,200 flights were canceled and more than 4,700 were delayed, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. The mid-Atlantic region was especially hard hit as airlines pulled flights ahead of the storm. Washington's Reagan National Airport led the pack Wednesday morning, with 37 percent of departures and 33 percent of arrivals canceled.
"Travel anymore is not easy, so you expect the unexpected," said Stacy Flye, trying to get home to Florida. "And you know, we knew the weather was going to be bad, but sometimes you just have to take your chances."
Amtrak earlier announced modifications to its Keystone service between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Farther west, snow forced Minneapolis and St. Paul schools and scores of other districts in Minnesota and Wisconsin to cancel classes as up to 10 inches of snow fell on the region.
Schools, businesses and government offices in Kansas closed or announced plans to start late. Several school districts closed in Missouri, where officials said many roads across the northern half of the state were partially or completely snow covered.
Heavy rains caused problems in parts of the Deep South. Flood watches and warnings cover the northern parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, and nearly all of Tennessee is at risk for floods.
The streak of bad weather is expected to continue through Wednesday night and in the days to come in some areas, forecasters said.\
Meanwhile, the Southwest braced for separate winter woes.
A "potent and cold" low pressure system was expected to drop up to 3 inches (8 centimeters) of snow on the outskirts of Las Vegas starting Wednesday night and continuing into Friday morning, the National Weather Service said.
Heavy snow was predicted for northern Arizona and significant rain for central Arizona deserts through Friday.