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East Coast blasted by icy storm

Flights canceled, delayed; 1 dead after 50-car pileup

– A powerful storm that crept across the country dumped a mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet on the Mid-Atlantic region and headed northeast Sunday.

The storm forced the cancellation of thousands of flights across the U.S. and slowed traffic on roads, leading to a number of crashes, including a fatal wreck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Morgantown, W.Va., that led to a series of fender-benders involving 50 cars that stranded some motorists for up to seven hours.

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.

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.

In northeast Indiana, meteorologists at the National Weather Service center in North Webster fielded numerous phone calls Sunday evening as light snow and patchy, freezing drizzle continued to make roads slick in spots, according to meteorologist John Taylor.

A freezing rain advisory was in effect for northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio through 7 a.m. today. Although no significant snowfall is forecast, temperatures will dip, with highs ranging in the mid-20s and lows in the teens throughout the week, Taylor said.

Factoring in winds of 10 to 20 mph today and Tuesday, wind-chill factors could make it feel like zero degrees. Winds will die down Wednesday, but this week’s low will occur that evening when temperatures are expected to hover between 5 and 10 degrees above zero, Taylor said.

Temperatures are expected to climb out of the teens by Friday, with the high near 30 degrees and a nighttime low of 21 degrees.

The tracking website estimates more than 2,000 flights were canceled nationwide as of Sunday afternoon and more than 6,000 flights were delayed.

Philadelphia International Airport had a temporary ground stop Sunday afternoon with snow totals of about 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.

Air passengers in Washington experienced increasing delays in the season’s first snowstorm.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said many flights had been delayed at Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National airports.

In Maryland, a chain-reaction accident on Interstate 81 in Washington County involving more than 20 vehicles delayed snow removal efforts for hours.

Vivian Sade of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.