The Latest: Wintry weather interrupts schools in US

The Latest on wintry weather hitting the U.S. (all times local):

11:50 a.m.

About a dozen school districts in New Jersey and districts in Connecticut have decided to send students home early as rain, sleet and snow pebble the East Coast.

Hundreds of schools in the central U.S. closed Thursday morning, with as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) blanketing the St. Louis area by the early afternoon.

In Indianapolis, the National Weather Service issued an ice storm warning. The state's largest school district, Indianapolis Public Schools, closed classes citing "dangerously slick road conditions."

Forecasters were predicting up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow in parts of southern New England, beginning in the mid-afternoon Thursday.

The University of Connecticut canceled all classes starting at 3:30 p.m. or later at its main campus, satellite campuses and law school. UConn Health was to remain open.

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8:50 a.m.

New Jersey residents are dealing with their first taste of wintry weather this season.

A mix of rain, sleet and snow started falling Thursday morning in southern areas and is expected to soon move across the state. Forecasters say anywhere from a coating to 4 inches (10 centimeters) of snow could fall overall, with northern areas seeing the higher accumulations and southern locations seeing mostly rain.

Most of the accumulations will likely be on cold and grassy surfaces. Most major roadways are expected to be wet, but authorities are urging drivers to be cautious since some slick or icy conditions could occur.

Some school districts are planning early dismissals Thursday.

The pre-winter storm slammed parts of the South and lower Midwest on Wednesday, causing five deaths on slippery roads and stranding travelers for more than eight hours on an icy Arkansas interstate.

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6:25 a.m.

A pre-winter storm slammed parts of the South and lower Midwest on Wednesday, causing five deaths on slippery roads and stranding travelers for more than eight hours on an icy Arkansas interstate.

The wintry weather is barreling east Thursday, with snow and ice expected from Ohio and the Appalachian Mountains through Washington, D.C., New York and New England.

In Mississippi, a tour bus bound for a casino overturned, leaving two people dead and 44 others injured. And in the Little Rock area, three people were killed in separate crashes on icy roads Wednesday night.

On Interstate 40 in east Arkansas, several crashes occurred near the White River bridge, stopping traffic overnight. The interstate reopened shortly before daybreak Thursday, but officials say traffic was slow-going because some drivers had fallen asleep.