More Snow in East and Avalanches in West

A surprising blast of winter snow is blanketing much of the East Coast this morning from Maine to Pennsylvania. While in the West, another avalanche has killed at least two.

Up to six inches of heavy snow have already fallen in Hartford, Conn., and it's still coming down.

Near-whiteout conditions are making for one messy morning commute today.

Boston's mayor declared a snow emergency Sunday, hoping to keep people off the roads this morning.

"It's gonna be a very fast hitting [storm], about a foot of snow in the interior and a very treacherous morning commute," said National Weather Service meteorologist Glenn Field.

Massachusetts closed roughly 400 schools across the state today, taking a lesson from the aftermath of two back-to-back nor'easters that slammed the area in December.

In fact, 27.7 inches of snow fell in Massachusetts last month, just missing the 1972 record.

What's been happening in New England has been typical of the rest of the country.

From deadly tornadoes and avalanches to violent flooding to record-breaking highs, it's already been a new year of weather woes — historic extremes in the West, while massive snowfalls close interstates and ski slopes.

An avalanche at the Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana, Sunday, killed two backcountry skiers, and officials say they are not sure whether there are other victims.

"At this time, there are conflicting statements to responders about how many more victims might have been buried in the avalanche," Flathead County Sheriff Mike Meehan said.

Emergency responders were alerted to the avalanche on Fiberglass Hill around noon Sunday, and more than 100 search and rescue people were quickly called to the scene.

The sheriff described the avalanche as "massive," and said the slide area began high on the mountain side, is several hundred feet wide and piled up between 25 and 35 feet of snow by the time it came to a stop.

Avalanches have killed at least 17 people across the West since Nov. 12. The national annual average for avalanche deaths is about 25. Thirty-five people were killed nationwide in avalanches in 2001-2002.

Across the Midwest severe thunderstorms have brought raging floods, inundating Illinois homes with six feet of water. Officials say it's been the worst flooding in 50 years.

A rare January rampage also brought hundreds of tornadoes, from Washington state to Wisconsin, where a twister leveled three dozen homes and the balmy temperatures of last week, which set about 200 record highs, are now gone.

Last week Indianapolis hit 68 degrees — today it might reach 31; Syracuse hit 70 degrees — today just 34; and in New York the high was 64, Sunday, but today it should reach only 35.

"It's been an interesting January. We started out with temperatures that were high of 14 degrees and lows of single digits. We rapidly warmed up to a high of 67 in Boston on the 8th [of January]," said Field.

This morning though, it's a return to the old-fashioned cold winter weather.

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