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Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz walks the sidelines as snow falls during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz walks the sidelines as snow falls during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Ice forms on holly leaves as sleet falls in Richmond, Va., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. A powerful storm system that spread hazardous snow, sleet and freezing rain widely across the nation's midsection rumbled toward the densely populated Eastern seaboard on Sunday.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Foles warms up as snow falls before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) A light snow falls over visitors to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, as snow followed by freezing rain and sleet is expected in the Washington region. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Kelly Felts, left, Nolan Felts, second from left, Tara Kilpatrick, second from right, and Erin Simmons, all of Richmond, Va., try to figure out a running route outside of Autozone Park, despite the cancellation of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, in Memphis, Tenn. Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. The weather forced the cancellation of the marathon, which expected to include 20,000 runners. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, William DeShazer) A runner makes his way down Main Street, despite the cancellation of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, in Memphis, Tenn., on Saturday. The slow-moving weather system was causing travel problems in the Northeast today.  (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, William DeShazer) Montana head coach Mick Delaney walks along the sidelines in the first half  of an NCAA college football playoff game against Coastal Carolina in Missoula, Mont., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Albans) Jeffrey Dye, of Passaic, N.J., holds a large sign at a gathering of peace activists in remembrance for South African leader Nelson Mandela in downtown Newark, N.J., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Mandela died Thursday at age 95. Some members of the group held signs that said 'never forget Mandela.' Others spoke of how those who frequently compare Mandela to Gandhi or Martin Luther King obscure the fact that Mandela was his own person with unique contributions to the peace movement. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) This photo shows Palm trees wrapped in insulation for protection from the sub-freezing temperatures in Tyler, Texas, on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman) A basketball net and backboard are frozen solid Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. Icy conditions were expected to last through the weekend from Texas to Ohio to Tennessee, and Virginia officials warned residents of a major ice storm likely to take shape today, resulting in power outages and hazards on the roads.  (AP Photo/Benny Snyder) A light snow falls as Meryl Dann, left, Michelle Kalicki, and Abigail Walsh react while looking at a cell phone photo of themselves in their elf costumes by the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. The college students stopped by the White House after participating in the A lone truck spreads salt on a traffic-free Chatham Bridge as a mix of snow, sleet and rain falls on Fredericksburg, Va., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Snow, sleet and freezing rain pelted the Fredericksburg region on Sunday, making walking and driving conditions difficult. (AP Photo/The Free Lance-Star, Peter Cihelka) A stranded motorist stands near his vehicle that slid off of State Route 3 near King's Highway in Stafford County, Va., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013.  Snow, sleet and freezing rain pelted the Fredericksburg region on Sunday, making driving conditions difficult. (AP Photo/The Free Lance-Star, Reza A. Marvashti) A Minnesota Vikings fan tries to catch snowflakes on his tongue as he watches players warm up before an NFL football game between the Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Baltimore. A powerful storm system that spread snow, sleet and freezing rain widely across the nation's midsection rumbled toward the densely populated Eastern seaboard on Sunday, promising more of the same. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Emergency personnel respond to the scene of an accident on Interstate 94 south of Milwaukee, near Racine, Wis., on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013.   Snow is causing treacherous driving conditions in southeastern Wisconsin. Multiple accidents have been reported on Interstates 94 and 894, as well as I-39 and I-90. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office describes conditions as extremely dangerous and slippery, with multiple pileups, including a fatal rollover on I-94 eastbound at Highway 100. (AP Photo/Michelle L Johnson)

Storm dumps snow, snarls traffic in East

PHILADELPHIA — A powerful storm that crept across the country dropped snow, freezing rain and sleet on the Mid-Atlantic region and headed northeast Sunday, turning NFL playing fields in Pennsylvania into winter wonderlands, dumping a foot of snow in Delaware and threatening a messy Monday commute in the northeast corridor.

The storm forced the cancellation of thousands of flights across the U.S. and slowed traffic on roads, leading to a number of accidents, including a fatal crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Morgantown that led to a series of fender-benders involving 50 cars that stranded some motorists for up to seven hours. More than two dozen vehicles were involved in another series of crashes on nearby Interstate 78.

What was forecast in the Philadelphia area to be a tame storm system with about an inch of snow gradually changing over to rain mushroomed into a full-blown snowstorm that snarled mid-afternoon traffic along Interstate 95 in Pennsylvania from the Delaware to New Jersey state lines.

Paul Jones, 24, a youth hockey coach from Warminster in the Philadelphia suburbs, was on his way to a game in Lancaster when he got stuck — along with his fiancee, another coach and three players — in a major backup on the turnpike.

The roadway was “snow-covered, slick,” Jones said in an interview from the car, where he was a passenger and had been at a standstill for more than an hour.

“People are in and out” of their vehicles, he said. “Kids are having a snowball fight on the side of the road, making snow angels, people are walking their dogs.”

The National Weather Service said the low pressure system from North Carolina north to New England was being fed by disturbances from the southwest and moist air off the Atlantic.

A foot of snow was reported in Newark, Del. Philadelphia International Airport received 8.6 inches Sunday, more than it had all of last year. Other areas received far less: a little over an inch was reported in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, which usually is hit harder than downtown Philadelphia.

The forecast for Monday remained up in the air for the northeast, depending on how quickly the system moves and temperatures rise, according to the National Weather Service.

The snow fell so heavily in Philadelphia on Sunday that yard markers at Lincoln Financial Field — where the Eagles beat the Detroit Lions — were completely obscured. It was almost as bad in Pittsburgh, where the snow intensified after the opening kickoff.

Philadelphia fan Dave Hamilton, of Ivyland, layered up for the game, wearing an Eagles shirt topped with an Eagles sweatshirt and Eagles winter coat.

“Twenty-seven years I’ve been a season-ticket holder, I’ve never seen snow at the game like this,” he said. “It just kept coming down. But we are all having fun out there.”

The tracking website estimates more than 2,500 flights were cancelled nationwide as of Sunday evening and more than 6,000 flights were delayed. That follows two days of similarly difficult travel conditions.

Philadelphia International Airport had a temporary ground stop Sunday afternoon with snow totals around 4 to 6 inches. Spokeswoman Stacey Jackson said a number of passengers were expected to remain in the airport overnight since area hotels had been full for several days. She said staff would hand out pillows and blankets to travelers to make them “feel at home even though they are not.”

Air passengers in the Washington-area experienced increasing delays as the season’s first real snowstorm set in. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said many flights had been delayed at Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National airports.

Virginia, parts of West Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area braced for blackouts under steady freezing rain, wet snow and sleet. Parts of northwest and southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia were getting snow, while sleet and freezing rain prevailed west and north of Richmond.

In Maryland, a chain-reaction accident on Interstate 81 in Washington County involving more than 20 vehicles delayed snow removal efforts for hours. The highway was closed for more than three hours after a tractor-trailer ran into the median to avoid cars that had spun out. It was hit by another tractor-trailer that overturned and spilled its load.

Several other tractor-trailers ran off the road and jackknifed as their drivers tried to avoid the crash.

North Texas started to thaw out slightly Sunday after two days of a near standstill with icy roads and low temperatures. About 400 departures from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were canceled Sunday. It will likely be a couple of days before the ice that’s coated the region melts completely.

The snowstorm raised fears about a potentially dangerous Monday morning commute, with snow-laden cars and perilous, icy roads. New Jersey’s new U.S. senator, Cory Booker, tweeted a promise to a Mount Holly resident to help him shovel out his car if he still needed the help in the morning.

But the heavy snow wasn’t limited to the East Coast. A snowstorm that hit along the Utah-Arizona border left hundreds of travelers stranded on Interstate 15 overnight into Sunday. The Arizona Highway Patrol said passengers in about 300 vehicles became stranded after up to 10 inches of snow and slick road conditions prompted the closure of part of the highway. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

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