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Snowing in New England, Soaking in the South — You Call This Spring?



Mark Twain once said about the vagaries of spring, “I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

He could have been talking about 2019, particularly in the Northeast, where the weather over the last week or so has toggled from damp and chilly to briefly seasonal and sunny and back to wet and cold, with the possibility of snow Monday night in parts of New England.

What is putting a crimp on spring, which officially started back on March 20, and standing in the way of such seasonal delights as planting a garden and firing up the backyard barbecue?

The culprit is a convergence of soaking wet weather from the South and West and cold air gliding in from Canada, according to Marc Chenard, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

That combination could bring snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches to higher elevations in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine late Monday night and Tuesday, especially in areas more than 2,000 feet above sea level, Mr. Chenard said.

“This is about as late into spring that you would see accumulating snowfall in that area,” he said, adding that the snow would probably be the wetter kind.

The moisture that will fall there as snow comes from the same storm system that began hammering areas of eastern Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi last week with heavy rains that continued, on and off, over the weekend.

“The rain amounts were pretty extreme, with some spots getting over 10 inches,” Mr. Chenard said.

Streets in New Orleans were awash on Sunday morning, and Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi declared a state of emergency in his state, where a number of counties were hard hit by flooding.

“In springtime, heavy rainfall is not uncommon, but this was still a pretty significant rainfall event in those areas,” Mr. Chenard noted.

Overall, the 12 months ending in April were the wettest 12-month period on record in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose records on the subject go back to 1895.

John Kinchla, owner of Amherst Nurseries in western Massachusetts, said the wet weather had delayed by about two weeks his company’s annual spring task of planting thousands of new trees.

Mr. Kinchla said that workers at the nursery, whose customers are mainly municipalities and landscapers, started planting on Saturday when the weather was “gorgeous,” but had to stop on Sunday when clouds and precipitation moved in again and the temperature dropped.

“We plant every year when the ground is dry enough for our equipment to work in,” he said. “But the ground has been too wet lately.”

Snow and freezing rain fell in the region on Sunday, and icy pavement caused a number of accidents on the Massachusetts Turnpike near the New York border, the authorities said. Officials reduced the speed limit on the turnpike to 30 m.p.h. because of the conditions.

It was the first snow to fall in the area on Mother’s Day in almost a quarter-century, according to the National Weather Service in Albany.

Outside of the Rocky Mountains, snowfall in May is uncommon in the lower 48 states, but when it happens, the storms can be memorable. Buffalo got nearly 8 inches of snow on May 7, 1989, breaking an 80-year-old record. Marquette, Mich., got nearly two feet on May 10, 1990. And on May 8, 1977, fans of the Grateful Dead emerged from the band’s legendary concert at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., to find that the temperature had dropped more than 30 degrees and snow was falling on the campus.

Adeel Hassan contributed reporting.

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