Windy storm brushes RI with light snow; Cape not so lucky

A tree fell on this house in Somerset under high winds Wednesday morning.

A strong spring storm brushed southeastern Rhode Island with light snow and strong winds, while weather forecasters are warning of potentially life-threatening conditions at sea.

The National Weather Service said Newport and neighboring communities could see an inch or two of snow by afternoon with wind gusts of up to 50 mph. No school closings were reported in the state, but several towns and cities have imposed parking bans including Middletown and Bristol.

Local Forecast: Follow the hour-by-hour track of the storm

No major flight delays or cancellations are reported at T.F. Green Airport.

The Weather Service says conditions will be dangerous in waters off New England with hurricane-force wind gusts and seas exceeding 25 feet in some areas.

The service issued blizzard warnings for Cape Cod and eastern Maine.

The same spring storm that whipped snow across portions of Massachusetts and eastern Maine on Wednesday, caused near-whiteout conditions on Cape Cod and roiling the Atlantic as it moved up the coast.

Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard received the brunt of the storm as it struck Massachusetts, dropping up to 10 inches of snow, forecasters said.

Schools across Cape Cod closed, while ferry and flight service to the islands were canceled. State courts in the region also closed.

Winds on Nantucket reached gusts up to 82 miles per hour was blowing snow horizontally Wednesday morning, stinging the faces of those few who dared venture outside.

In Bourne, Mass., 6- to 8-foot churning brown swells crashed along Sagamore Beach, eerily vacant of its usual joggers and dog walkers. Gusts to 60 mph flung snow and sand sideways, creating near-whiteout conditions.

"It's ridiculous - utterly ridiculous," said Mark Krause, manager of Sagamore Beach Ace Hardware, where snow shovels recently were put away to make room for stacks of lawn fertilizer. "It's supposed to be 50. Everyone's supposed to be out working in their yards. I don't get it."

"This sucks," he said, dashing to secure glass doors repeatedly blown open by swirling winds.

March is supposed to go out like a lamb, "but this is not a lamb," said George Hermanspan, who was fueling school buses in the neighboring village of Cedarville. "It shouldn't be happening. But Mother Nature does what she wants, and there's nothing much we can do or say about it."

Just days after the official end of one of the snowiest winters on record, the storm began heading up the Interstate 95 corridor on Tuesday, dropping snowflakes onto Washington, D.C.'s budding cherry trees and dusting government buildings in northern Virginia. Almost 4 inches of snow was reported at Dulles International Airport and 1.7 inches at Reagan National Airport.

As the storm moved north, it dropped about 6 inches of snow in southern Delaware's Sussex County and blanketed parts of southern New Jersey, where 6 1/2 inches of snow was reported in Cape May, 5 1/2 inches in Middle Township and 4 inches at Atlantic City International Airport.

Taunton, Mass-based meteorologist Matt Doody was unfazed by the prospect of more snow during a seemingly relentless season. "Here in New England, we're generally used to dealing with weather like this," he said early Wednesday.

Although spring began a week ago, it's not unusual to have storms so late in the year, said weather service spokesman Bill Simpson. The Boston area got more than 2 inches of snow in an April storm last year and was blanketed with almost 2 feet the same month in 1997.

"I can't wait for it to warm up," 20-year-old Dajuan Davis of Boston, a massage school student bundled up in a heavy jacket, said Tuesday. "I'm from North Carolina. I'm not used to this cold weather."

Associated Press writers Bill Kole in Bourne and Paige Sutherland in Boston contributed to this report.