Winter Storm Stella winds down: Here's what you need to know

Much of the metro area is under a freeze warning Wednesday morning.

Winter Storm Stella blasted up the East Coast on Tuesday, providing much of the region with its biggest snowfall of the winter.

Here is what you need to know:

The latest totals

The late-season snowstorm continued to dump snow, sleet and freezing rain in New England into Tuesday evening. Blizzard warnings and winter storm warnings remained in effect for heavy snowfall accumulations for interior portions of the Northeast and New England.

The biggest totals from the storm as of late afternoon included 30 inches in Damascus, Pa., the Weather Channel said. Both Scranton, Pa., and Binghamton, N.Y., picked up over 20 inches.

In New York City, 4 inches was reported in Central Park, the city's official weather observation location.

Up to two feet of snow was possible in portions of New York State and New England before the storm winds down overnight.

Flooding was also reported in seaside towns along the New Jersey shore.

How many people are affected?

At one point Tuesday morning, 18 million Americans were under a blizzard warning, which stretched from eastern Pennsylvania to southern Maine. Millions more were under a winter storm warning or advisory. The entirety of all six New England states, as well as all of New York, New Jersey and Delaware were under some form of weather alert during Tuesday.

Things are closed

The storm closed schools in many cities and towns and prompted dire warnings to stay off the roads. Entertain your kids and keep your sanity in tact. Amtrak also suspended service and the post office halted mail delivery.

Boston announced its school would close again Wednesday.

Why Stella?

Because The Weather Channel said so. No other private firms, nor the weather service, use this name. The Weather Channel is calling the system Stella as part of its winter storm naming system.

Snow vs. ice

Many areas received less snow than predicted, but in its place is a messy mix of sleet and freezing rain, which has led to downed trees and power lines and caused power outages in some areas.

Ice coated Washington, D.C.'s beloved cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, the Capital Weather Gang tweeted. The blossoms emerged earlier than usual due to a recent stretch of weirdly warm weather.

Blame the 'sandwich'

Sleet and freezing rain forms due to a "warm-air sandwich" in the atmosphere above our heads. Precipitation starts as snow in the cold layer at the top, then melts to rain as it falls through the warm layer, then refreezes into sleet or freezing rain as it falls through the cold layer near the surface.

In the dark

Stella knocked out power to nearly 250,000 customers from Virginia to Pennsylvania, according to the Associated Press.

The not-so-friendly skies

Tuesday was the worst travel day yet from the storm, which forced the cancellation of more than 8,800 flights.

Airlines moved quickly to pare their Tuesday schedules ahead of the storm, which had been forecast to bring crippling conditions to much of the Northeast. Carriers preemptively axed 5,300 flights for the day, all before midnight Monday, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. About 600 more had been canceled as of 1:05 p.m. ET Tuesday, a figure that was likely to keep growing.

What happens next?

Sorry, spring lovers. After the storm exits, a second blast of arctic air will keep the eastern half of the nation in its clutches for the rest of the week. “Winter will hold a tight grip on the Northeast in wake of the significant snowstorm early this week,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido said. Blowing snow could also complicate road crews' work.

The nor'easter comes a week after the region saw temperatures climb into the 60s, and less than a week before the official start of spring.

Contributing: Bart Jansen, USA TODAY; Associated Press

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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