A spring nor'easter rumbled along the East Coast on Sunday and was expected to bring rain and heavy winds and even snow in some places as it strengthens into early Monday, a punctuation to a relatively dry stretch of weather for the Northeast.
The storm is atypical for April but not uncommon, said David Stark, a National Weather Service meteorologist in New York City, where 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches of rain are expected in the city with wind gusts of 25-30 mph.
With the storm came a spate of disruptions. Pro baseball games were postponed in New York and Washington. The space shuttle Enterprise's scheduled arrival in New York City was pushed back. An Earth Day celebration at a park in Virginia Beach, Va., was canceled.
From Philadelphia north through New York City and into southern New England up to 4 inches of rain could fall, with the heaviest downpour expected early Monday.
Some higher-elevation areas in the western parts of Pennsylvania and New York and in West Virginia and Ohio could even see snow. Forecasts called for 4 to 12 inches.
Flooding was possible in some areas, but precipitation in much of the Northeast is below normal for this time of year.
"We're down 7 or 8 inches," weather service forecaster Charlie Foley said. "This won't completely wipe out the deficit but it will certainly help."
Even Lake Champlain on the Vermont-New York border, normally close to flood stage this time of year because of rain and snowmelt, is near a record low. Just a year ago, it approached its highest level on record.
The storm's biggest threat is likely power outages caused by falling trees and limbs bringing down power lines, said meteorologist John Darnley.
Another unseasonable nor'easter last year just before Halloween dumped up to 2 feet of wet, heavy snow that snapped tree limbs and power lines, and knocked out power to more than 3 million customers in the Northeast. In Connecticut, it broke a state record for the number of power company customers left in the dark by a single storm that had been set only two months earlier when the remnants of Hurricane Irene slammed the state as it barreled up the Eastern Seaboard.
The worst of the flooding from Irene was in Vermont and northern New York, where cleanups continue seven months later. Farmers are still grappling with crop-smothering rocks, trees, gravel and sand left behind when the flood waters receded. But the dry weather has eased the threat the debris that litters the landscape will rush downriver again.
Farther south, light rain was falling Sunday over the Baltimore and Washington metro areas and was expected to intensify throughout the day, said meteorologist Carrie Suffren, who warned drivers to beware of low visibility and slick roadways. She cautioned boaters on the Chesapeake Bay of the winds.
In Florida, a woman had to be rescued Saturday night during thunderstorms after disappearing while out on Tampa Bay. She was unfamiliar with her watercraft and also unfamiliar with the bay and got stuck on an island, the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said. Officers found her soon after she was reported missing, as severe thunderstorms loomed overhead and she frantically called for help.
In Rockport, Mass., the approaching storm forced authorities to halt until Tuesday a search for a missing 2-year-old girl who apparently disappeared from a beach Thursday when her mother went to retrieve a lost ball. The beach is known for strong riptides.
Authorities in New York also suspended work that began last week on digging up a basement in a search for the remains of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979 on his walk to his school bus stop.