Mass. Gov. Declares State of Emergency

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency Monday night

With six to seven feet of snow covering the state of Massachusetts Monday night and more snow expected to accumulate, Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency.

This comes as the third significant snow storm of the season within the last two weeks impacted the Commonwealth.

“Three storms in two weeks have dropped historic amounts of snow on the Commonwealth, complicating cleanup and snow removal efforts, despite round the clock shifts,” said Gov. Baker.

In addition, Gov. Baker asked non-emergency state employees in Suffolk, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Essex counties to stay home Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, a frustrated Governor Baker said it was "unacceptable" that the MBTA was running limited service and added he'll meet with top transportation officials after the storm subsides. The nation's oldest transit system ultimately cancelled rail service as of 7 p.m. Monday night and will remain suspended Tuesday as crews clean up and assess damage. The buildup of snow and ice on trolley tracks combined with aging equipment has stalled trains, delaying and angering commuters.

NECN chief meteorologist Matt Noyes said the heaviest snow fell mid-morning to mid-afternoon Monday and will wind down Monday night.

"Just trying to remove as much as we can, it just keeps coming and there’s no place to put it honestly, I’m throwing snow eight feet in the air," said James LeFleur as he was shoveling out Monday night.

The Massachusetts Transportation Department says it had deployed more than 3,100 pieces of equipment clearing snow, sanding and salting.

The speed limit on the Massachusetts Turnpike was reduced to 40 miles per hour along the entire length of the highway. Speeds on major New Hampshire highways and the Maine Turnpike from Kittery to Augusta were down to 45 mph. Most people appeared to be stay off the roads on Monday, and very few accidents were reported across New England.

"It's not too bad today," said Lt. Jerome Maslan of the New Hampshire State Police. He said there were 139 crashes and vehicles off the road in New Hampshire on Sunday, but only 12 as of 7 a.m. Monday.

"People are staying off the roads and driving a bit more cautious," Maslan said. "Slow down. Let the plows do their thing."

Many schools are closed on Monday and Tuesday, and Boston public schools are closed Monday and Tuesday. Boston and many other local communities have also implemented winter parking bans to allow for snow removal.

There were no reported power outages early Monday.

The winter storm warning posted by the National Weather Service began at 10 p.m. Saturday and was expected to remain in effect for a large swath of southern New England, including in Boston, in Providence, Rhode Island, and in Hartford, Connecticut, until the early morning hours of Tuesday. Light snow began falling in the Boston area on Saturday, but what forecasters are calling a "long duration" storm became more intense on Sunday.

Gov. Baker closed state offices in Massachusetts on Monday, with non-emergency state workers asked to stay home. He did not implement a statewide travel ban, but asked people to stay off the roads.

On Monday morning, Baker said the storm will likely drop 15 to 20 inches on most of Massachusetts before it's over. The real concern, he said, is the total snowfall the state has seen over the past two weeks, which is putting a strain on roofs and local snow removal budgets. Some areas of New England have already set records for all-time highest snow depth.

"This is pretty much unprecedented," the governor said.

As result of the heavy accumulating snow, the Department of Environmental Protection is giving cities and town the green light to dump snow into open water, which is normally prohibited. Guidelines detail that snow may only be dumped in waterways with strong enough flow to prevent ice dams. 

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy urged people to stay stay off the roads, but unlike Massachusetts, state employees were expected to work.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan opened the state's Emergency Operations Center at 6 a.m. Monday.

While the snow is welcome at New England ski resorts, it's a headache for some businesses.

"I normally have 15 to 20 dogs for day care but that's down to half a dozen; people can't get here," said Bruce Billings, owner of Canine College and Bow Wow Resort, a dog training, day care and boarding center in Holbrook, Massachusetts, 10 miles south of Boston.

Billings said he's trying to clear outdoor play areas with a snow blower because only the biggest dogs can frolic through snow that's 2 to 3 feet deep.

"I love snow. I just hate having to clear it," Billings said.

In many New England communities, the obvious problem is where to put the new snowfall.

David Lombari, public works director for West Warwick, Rhode Island, said his town was already clogged with piles of snow several feet high and school buses were parked in the usual snow storage lot.

"I don't know what we're going to do yet," Lombari said. "It's tough trying to find a place that meets all the proper (environmental) criteria."

State snow disposal guidelines require that communities use locations that won't harm environmental resources and have barriers that prevent contaminants from seeping into groundwater when the snow melts.

Adding insult to injury, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency warned that potentially record cold temperatures and wind chills are expected to move into the region later in the week.

But not everyone was dreading the next blast of winter.

Business was brisk at Charles Street Supply hardware in Boston, where owner Jack Gurnon sells shovels, salt and sleds. He drove to Portland, Maine, to stock up so he'd be able to meet demand when the storm hits full force.

"We actually have a lot of supply right now, and we're lucky because the big box stores, they're scrambling around, and I'm sitting on a whole bunch right now," Gurnon said.

But an increase in sales isn't all he is looking forward to. "I also love to ski, so as soon as this next mess is over with, I'm taking off and going north," he said.

Here are some useful links to make sure that you're prepared:

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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