The Latest: Sprawling storm drops snow, rain over much of US

The early closure of many schools, businesses and governments in several states appears to have helped stem complications from a winter storm plaguing much of the US

NEW YORK -- The Latest on a winter storm hitting much of the U.S. (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

The early closure of many schools, businesses and governments in several states appears to have helped stem complications from a winter storm plaguing much of the U.S.

On the East Coast, the evening rush hour is going relatively smoothly despite slick roads. The storm dropped only a few inches of snow on an area that has seen little of it this winter.

A spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic says it appears motorists heeded warnings to stay off roads.

But farther inland, the snow was heavier, and crashes shut down part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The same system was dropping several inches on parts of the Midwest. Thousands of flights nationwide were delayed or canceled.

Meanwhile, parts of the Deep South are experiencing flash flooding and other problems from heavy rains. Water covered roads in parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

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12:30 p.m.

Snow is beginning to fall in New York City, and schools in several parts of the U.S. are closing or delaying their starts amid predictions for storms and messy afternoon commutes.

The Washington area airports are experiencing significant cancelations. FlightAware.com shows Reagan National Airport leading the pack Wednesday morning, with 37 percent of departures and 33 percent of arrivals canceled.

Snow forced Minneapolis and St. Paul schools and scores of other districts in Minnesota and Wisconsin to cancel classes Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Northern Arizona is bracing for heavy snowfall in the coming days.

Heavy rains are also causing problems in parts of the Deep South. Flood watches and warnings cover the northern parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, and nearly all of Tennessee is at risk for floods.