BOSTON — A late-winter storm that buried parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic swept into New England on Thursday, bringing snow, rain, strong winds, big waves and fears of coastal flooding.
The region braced for the brunt of the storm overnight Thursday and into Friday. Powerful waves and high winds were expected to cause more trouble than snow from Rhode Island to Maine.
In the seacoast town of Scituate, Mass., about 30 miles south of Boston, about a dozen streets were closed after Thursday morning's high tide sent 2 to 2 1/2 feet of water washing into some areas.
Emergency management officials said the evening tide brought fewer problems, but they worried about getting through Friday morning's high tide before the storm was expected to wind down. No severe flooding was reported elsewhere.
"There are no mandatory evacuations, but it is strongly advised," said Scituate Police Chief Brian Stewart. "Why put yourself at risk? Folks have been through this before, and they know what happens in these areas. We're recommending that people in areas that have experienced coastal flooding to evacuate three hours before high tide."
In Salisbury, Mass., on the New Hampshire border, officials ordered evacuations for homes along several beachfront streets.
The National Weather Service predicted up to 7 inches of heavy, wet snow in southeastern Connecticut and wind gusts up to 50 mph. A coastal flood warning was in effect for east-facing shores in Massachusetts, with up to a 3-foot surge at high tide in some areas. Central Massachusetts was bracing for 8 to 12 inches of snow, with predictions for Boston and nearby areas of 6 to 10 inches.
"We are watching a conveyor belt of wave after wave of snow coming in over the Atlantic," said Alan Dunham, meteorologist with the weather service in Taunton, Mass. "That will be continuing all night."
On Cape Cod, where the storm was expected to be mostly rain, officials were concerned about beach erosion. The area suffered extensive erosion from Superstorm Sandy in October and a major snowstorm last month.
"We've really gotten more erosion in the last six months than we've experienced in the last decade," said Sandwich Town Manager George Dunham. "These three storms are really taking a toll."
Some in Massachusetts were taking the storm in stride.
Mail carrier Stephen Manning didn't even wear a coat as he delivered mail along Dorchester Avenue in Boston. Instead, he wore a hooded sweatshirt.
"This is warm," Manning said. "You wear a jacket when it's cold."
Dozens of car crashes were reported across Connecticut on Thursday morning. A FedEx tractor trailer overturned on Interstate 84 in Tolland, causing a chain-reaction crash involving about nine other vehicles, including a state police cruiser and two other tractor-trailers. No serious injuries were reported.
The storm pummeled the nation's midsection Tuesday, killing at least five people in weather-related traffic accidents.
On its way north, it called on Mantoloking, N.J., the shore town hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy. A pounding surf broke through a temporary dune during the early-morning high tide Thursday. The dune breach forced the closing of a major coastal highway for several hours.
In Virginia, three people were killed, including a 22-year-old man who died Thursday after his vehicle ran off an icy road, went over an embankment and landed upside down in a creek. No details were immediately available on the other two storm-related deaths.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency and National Guard soldiers were sent to help clear roads. Up to 20 inches of snow piled up in central and western parts of the state. About 120,000 customers remained without electricity by mid-day Thursday, down from more than 200,000 outages at the height of the storm.
The storm dumped 2 feet of snow in parts of neighboring West Virginia, closing schools in more than half the state and leaving more than 20,000 customers without power.
A Coast Guard search for a missing North Carolina man and his nephew was called off Thursday. The Coast Guard said it had searched over 560 square miles of the Atlantic before suspending the search for Walter and Steven Tate, both of New Bern, N.C. A third crew member was rescued Wednesday afternoon.
Their 67-foot Seafarer became disabled Wednesday and was being towed by another ship about 15 miles east of Assateague Island when the two vessels became separated in heavy seas.
Associated Press writers Wayne Parry in N.J.; Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C.; and Bridget Murphy in Boston contributed to this report.