By Scott Malone and Valerie Vande Panne
BOSTON (Reuters) - Residents of much of coastal New England woke up on the second day of spring to discover lawns and roads blanketed with snow and schools closed in Boston, Providence and several other cities.
But the last gasp of winter, forecast to drop as much as 6 inches (15 cm) of snow on Boston, was expected to be brief, with temperatures expected to rise to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) by the afternoon.
The snowfall, which followed several days of seasonable warmth, left some Bostonians puzzled about clothing choices, with pedestrians taking to the streets in shorts and sneakers despite the short lived storm.
"It's going to compact quickly and also melt. We are expecting temperatures this afternoon to rise into the upper 30s to mid 40s across southern New England, so that'll promote melting," said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts. "This is all going to pass."
The forecast for the storm had been erratic over the weekend, swinging from predicting as much as 10 inches (25 cm) of snow in Boston to the possibility of the storm tracking east over the ocean and missing the city entirely.
"I was expecting more snow. If I didn't have to work I'd be at home. Definitely," said Rico Ricard, 36, who was walking from the subway to his job at a city facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just outside Boston.
Winter storm warnings were in effect for parts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and coastal Maine, with as much as a foot (30 cm) of snow forecast for northern parts of the northeasternmost U.S. state.
The storm slowed travel in the region, with Boston Logan International Airport reporting 13 percent of departing flights canceled, as well as 9 percent of arrivals.
It proved a bit of a damper for businesses that depend on balmier weather, though it didn't stop 45-year-old Jason Sanford from setting up a line of bicycles outside of the Broadway Bicycle School shop, a move intended to signal that the store was open despite the weather.
"Luckily, we've had nice weather, so we have a basement full of tune-ups," Sanford said. "Hopefully we'll get ahead of it today."
(Reporting by Scott Malone Editing by W Simon)