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Late-season winter storm threatens huge swath of US

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March may go out like a lamb, but it promises to be a lion for the next few days for a huge strip of the country.

A late-season winter storm is predicted to bring snow, ice and even blizzard conditions from the Northern Plains to the New England coast and as far south as the nation's capital.

Wednesday is the first day of spring, but try telling that to people in the affected areas. 

The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for large parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota as winds gusted at 50 mph and snow started piling up late Sunday and early Monday.

Traffic could be snarled in urban centers, especially the Twin Cities, and things might not be much better in Chicago, where just a bit of snow is forecast but freezing rain threatens to bedevil Monday morning commuters.

The wintry mess will spread across the northern Great Lakes region and into the Northeast later Monday and into Tuesday, according to Weather.com.

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Most of Wisconsin is under a winter weather advisory, while lake-effect snows are expected in western Michigan. Across the southern Great Lakes, including Cleveland and much of northern Ohio, as well as parts of western Pennsylvania, snow is expected to be followed by freezing rain throughout much of Monday, potentially causing traffic tie-ups throughout the region, according to NBCChicago.com said.

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Much of the same is possible as far south as Washington, D.C. Its far western, northern and southern suburbs in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia were under winter storm warnings and advisories through Monday evening.

Much of the heavily populated Northeast Corridor looks to escape the worst of the snow, but freezing rain and some snow could complicate travel in New York, NBCNewYork.com warned.

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Boston lies just to the east of the weather service winter storm warning area, but much of New England doesn't look likely to be spared the storm.

Most of northern New England was under winter storm warning into Tuesday -- and through Wednesday for much of Maine -- with forecasters predicting up to 14 inches of snow and winds gusting at 25 to 30 mph from Western New York to the Maine coast.

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