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People cross Flagstaff Hill as the snow starts to fall, in Schenley Park, on their way to the Carnegie Mellon University campus. 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A spring nor’easter targeted the Northeast on Wednesday with strong winds and a foot or more of snow expected in some parts of the region.

Airlines canceled flights and schools canceled classes ahead of the fourth major storm in three weeks. Conditions were calm in most areas early Wednesday, but forecasters said the storm was expected to kick into high gear by early afternoon.

“I didn’t think I’d still need to keep storm stuff in my car in late March, but what are you going to do?” Wilson Collins said as he prepared to leave his Toms River, New Jersey, home on Wednesday morning, checking his trunk to make sure he had a shovel, a blanket and other emergency items. “I’m hoping most of the snow will accumulate just on the grass, but the roads will be a mess no matter what. I just hope this is finally it.”

Residents were being urged to stay home and off the roads, if possible, on Wednesday, so crews could work to keep streets clear.

Landscaping crews along the New Jersey coast tended to shrubs and plants at oceanfront homes, and then packed up their garden tools to get ready to plow. Shore towns positioned bulldozers, front-end loaders and other heavy equipment to deal with beach erosion.

The bulk of the snow and sleet was expected to pound New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and parts of eastern Pennsylvania on Wednesday before heading toward Cape Cod early Thursday.

Widespread power outages were possible with gusts blowing up to 35 mph (56 kph).

In Philadelphia, where wind-whipped snow fell on Tuesday, restaurant server Katy Halbeisen called the early-spring storm “pretty lame.”

A heavy equipment operator with the Hazleton Department of Public Works uses a loader to move anti-skid material

“Yesterday I was walking around and saw little birds taking a bath and it looked like they were thinking it would be spring. So I feel bad for those little birds,” she said.

Dog walker Emily DiFiglia said she was done with winter.

“I’m outside all day long. So having the weather constantly fluctuating has driven me a little mad,” she said on Philadelphia’s South Street. “Mother Nature, let’s get some warm weather!”

The flight-tracking site FlightAware reported more than 3,000 canceled flights across the U.S. on Wednesday, most in the Northeast.

On the ground, Amtrak scaled back service on the Northeast corridor and some states banned certain types of trucks from major highways.

Parry reported from Seaside Park, New Jersey. Associated Press writer Bruce Shipkowski in Toms River, New Jersey, also contributed to this report.

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(Darrell Sapp/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP & Ellen F. O’Connell/Hazelton Standard-Speaker via AP)

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