Another blast of arctic air follows latest snow

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Janis Lozano crosses S. Elms Street in a snowstorm with her dogs on Monday, March 3, 2014, in Greensboro, N.C. Iris is a Siberian-Australian shepherd mix, and Orion, is a boxer-pit bull mix. (AP Photo/News & Record, Jerry Wolford)

Janis Lozano crosses S. Elms Street in a snowstorm with her dogs on Monday, March 3, 2014, in Greensboro, N.C. Iris is a Siberian-Australian shepherd mix, and Orion, is a boxer-pit bull mix. (AP Photo/News & Record, Jerry Wolford)

Dana Maxwell tries to keep warm at Intermodal Transportation Center in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, March 3, 2014. The couple said that they are homeless and had to leave the Presbyterian Night Shelter at 7 a.m. and plan to ride the bus all day to keep warm. The National Weather Service issued a wind chill advisory until midmorning Monday for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Forecasters say sunny conditions should return by Tuesday with highs in the upper 40s. (AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Max Faulkner) MAGS OUT; (FORT WORTH WEEKLY, 360 WEST); INTERNET OUT

The statue of President Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, sculpted in 1853 by Clark Mill sits in the falling snow in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House in Washington, Monday, March 3, 2014. The winter weather prompted area schools and the federal government to close and the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the greater Washington Metropolitan region. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The sidewalk in front of the White House in Washington is cleared of snow, Monday, March 3, 2014. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the greater Washington Metropolitan region, prompting area schools and the federal government to close for the wintry weather. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

A man checks his mobile phone as he walks through snow-covered Columbus Park, Monday, March 3, 2014 in New York. Winter kept its icy hold on much of the country Monday, with snow falling and temperatures starting to plummet from the Mid-Atlantic states up to the East Coast. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The seemingly endless winter dumped a half a foot snow on the ground in parts of the South, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and those areas braced Tuesday morning for something even more unusual in March: a blast of arctic air that was expected to send temperatures plummeting into the single digits.

Washington has recorded a low temperature in the single digits in March only two times in recorded history — and the previous two were in 1872 and 1873, according to the National Weather Service. Other parts of the Northeast could also see record lows for the month of March and much of the South will start Tuesday below freezing.

Blame it on a return of the “polar vortex.”

“That is the buzzword this winter, the polar vortex. That cold air just kind of migrates around the poles and the extreme northern latitudes all the time,” said Jim Lee, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. “The jet stream enables that colder air to move down the East Coast.”

Monday’s snowstorm followed a pattern that’s become routine. Schools and government offices were closed. Federal workers stayed home — the fourth weather-related shutdown this season. Young adults gathered on the sloppy, slushy National Mall for a semi-organized, afternoon snowball fight.

Tourists, who flock to the nation’s capital 365 days a year, were seeking out whatever activities they could find.

The National Air and Space Museum was the only Smithsonian institution open, and it drew a crowd. Among the visitors were Russ Watters, 60, of St. Louis, and his 14-year-old son, Seth, who was touring Washington with his 8th-grade class.

“We’re trying to find stuff that’s open, so this is open,” Watters said.

The storm had a major effect south of the Mason-Dixon line. Governors declared states of emergency in Virginia and Tennessee, where there were hundreds of traffic accidents and tens of thousands of power outages. Nearly 3,000 flights were canceled Monday.

In Falls Church, Va., daredevils took advantage of another snow day by sledding down a steep hill behind an elementary school. Maya Luera, 11, said she wouldn’t be so happy in June, when the school year will be extended because there’s been so much snow.

“I’m more of a summer person, so I’d rather have more free time in the summer than the winter,” she said.

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Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Va., contributed to this report.

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Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols .

Associated Press

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