By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Spring arrives in the winter-weary U.S. Northeast on Friday but the weather forecast was for more of the same: another half-foot of snow for parts of the region, prompting widespread flight cancellations and early school dismissals.

After blanketing the Washington, D.C., region, the snowstorm headed north to the New York City metropolitan area, which was expected to get up to 6 inches (15 cm) of the wet, heavy winter souvenir, said National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Pereira.

The worst of the weather was expected to snarl the evening rush hour commute, arriving just in time for the Vernal Equinox, at 6:45 p.m. EDT that marks the start of spring.

"I will admit it's getting late in the season," Pereira said. "I'm sure a lot of folks are ready for spring."

Winter-weary Bostonians are probably at the top of list. The Boston area is expected to get another inch of the white stuff after the city this week broke the record for the most seasonal snow in its history at 108.6 inches (275.8 cm).

The fierce winter drained snow removal and road safety budgets in towns and cities throughout the Northeast.

"We are over budget right now," New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia told WCBS Radio, as the city readied plows for yet another round of street clearing and salting.

As the storm took aim at New York, it left behind the deepest snow in the western Maryland town of Cascade, which recorded 4 inches on Friday.

Poor visibility made travel treacherous and schools in Maryland and Virginia either opened later or were closed for the day. As the weather system moved north, schools in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York dismissed students early.

Nearly 1,000 U.S. flights were canceled, with the heaviest hit airports in the New York area, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., according to

Even after the storm ends late Friday, a weather pattern from the Great Lakes is expected to aim for northern New England. Mountain ranges in upstate New York, Vermont and Maine could see as much as 6 inches of snow late Saturday into Sunday, Pereira said.

"For folks who like skiing, this will lengthen the season a bit," Pereira said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Frank McGurty and Lisa Lambert)