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On the third day of spring, many North Americans still face a seemingly endless winter

A multi-car accident south of Edmonton, Alberta in Leduc Thursday, March 22, 2013.

Derek Fildebrandt

It may be the third day of spring, but many North Americans are still facing the wrath of a seemingly endless winter.

The late arrival of milder weather is so pronounced that an Ohio prosecutor has filed a mock indictment against Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who last month incorrectly predicted an early spring.

"I woke up this morning and the wind was blowing, the snow was flying, the temperatures were falling, and I said 'Punxsutawney, you let us down'," attorney Michael Gmoser told a television station on Thursday.

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Part of the reason behind our discontent with continued cold, snowy weather is the contrast with last winter in Canada, which was the third-warmest on record.

"We have poor memories as Canadians. We think that the last season we survived is normal. Well, I keep telling people that last winter we cancelled winter," said David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada.

About 150 people were stranded on a Via Rail train for more than 24 hours in western Saskatchewan due to bad weather. The train, which started moving again on Friday, was delayed after heavy snowfall and high winds put rail traffic on the Prairies behind schedule.

Schools were closed Friday in parts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland because of heavy snow and high winds. A woman in Prince Edward Island was killed while crossing a highway in whiteout conditions.

As well, a snowstorm is expected to move in a broad swath from the U.S. Plains into the Midwest late Friday through the weekend.

At least 100 vehicles were involved in a series of crashes south of Edmonton on Thursday. Twenty-two people were treated at area hospitals and some 80 others were treated at the crash site.

Once spring arrives, the U.S. National Weather Service warned that late melting of a heavy snowpack could cause "major" flooding along the Red River near the Canada-U.S. border.

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As well, in the United Kingdom, residents are bracing for heavy rain and snow and the National Weather Service is warning of flooding.

With reports from The Canadian Press and Reuters

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