New England Digs Out From Blizzard of 2015

The busy Northeast corridor was in line for a winter wallop that was predicted to bring anywhere from a few inches to a couple of feet of snow

Blizzard-battered New Englanders are heading back onto the roads and digging out of the snow Wednesday after a howling storm with winds over 70 mph slammed Boston and surrounding areas, knocking out power and flooding coastal areas.

A statewide travel ban in Massachusetts was lifted overnight, and both the MBTA and Logan International Airport are back up and running. About 8,600 customers remain without power in New England, including 4,300 in Nantucket alone. Officials in Nantucket say all public school, private schools and town offices will be closed on Wednesday.

Eastern Massachusetts, which fared worse than western Massachusetts, saw more than 2 feet of snow from the storm. In Boston, there was a record snowfall on Tuesday alone, with 18.5 inches of snow, shattering the previous record set in 2011 of 8.8 inches of snow. Mayor Marty Walsh said it was the sixth biggest snowfall in the city's history. Worcester also saw a record snowfall of 34.5 inches.

Walsh said the parking ban in the city will remain in place until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, though the city has already stopped ticketing and towing. He also asked residents to help shovel out their elderly neigbors and clear paths around fire hydrants. Later in the day, Mayor Marty Walsh released a statement saying schools would remain closed Thursday

Flooding was an issue in some areas at high tide Tuesday, with a portion of the seawall in Marshfield collapsing, several roads in the Boston area closing and some coastal homes becoming enveloped in water. About 50 to 100 Marshfield residents were urged to evacuate before high tide Tuesday afternoon. Nine homes were severely damaged, and some may need to be torn down.

A New Bedford, Massachusetts, man died Tuesday while shoveling snow. He had a pre-existing medical condition that is believed to have contributed to his death. Human remains were also found washed up on King's Beach in Swampscott, though it's unclear if that is related to the storm in any way.

Pilgrim Nuclear Station in Plymouth also had to shut down temporarily after the two main transmission lines leaving the plant went down. But state officials said there is no public safety issue.

"I'm going to give everybody an A on this one," Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said of how everyone handled the storm.

He said the state is in "relatively good shape," and that the biggest issues going forward will be clearing sidewalks, finding places to put the snow, and dealing with the cold and how it affects the state's public transit systems.

Baker said there was "heated debate" about implementing a travel ban, but ultimately he felt it worked out well. However, he said he does not want this to become "the first lever everybody pushes" whenever it snows.

He and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito will be visiting storm damaged areas in Scituate, Nantucket and Marshfield later on Wednesday.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the Wednesday morning commute was "as good as could be expected under the circumstances." The volume was light due in part to the fact that schools are still closed.

The MBTA is running Wednesday, but Pollack said residents should expect to see some problems on the MBTA due to the cold weather, with possible equipment malfunctions and switches freezing.

"We may continue to see some cold-related delays," she said.


Market Square snowball fight #portsmouthnh #blizzard #juno #snowballfight

A video posted by Jim Walker (@jjwalker92) on Jan 27, 2015 at 10:39am PST

Commuters are encouraged to check out the MBTA website for full updates and any changes.

The National Weather Service over the weekend had issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions. But Baker said the cold actually helped in that regard, as the snow was lighter and didn't cause as many power outages as had originally been anticipated.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy lifted his state's travel ban at 2 p.m. Wednesday, adding that there had only been 15 accidents on the roads during the travel ban. However, he is still encouraging residents to limit their trave land to use common sense while driving.

Malloy also said state employees were expected to come back to work on Wednesday.

In Rhode Island, the travel ban put in place on Monday night was lifted at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan also declared a state of emergency, which was lifted Wednesday morning.

Maine declared a state of emergency on Tuesday morning, and Vermont has reported relatively few issues as a result of the storm.

On Monday, life abruptly stopped across the region as officials ordered workers to go home early, banned travel, closed bridges and tunnels, and assembled their biggest plowing crews. MBTA service also shut down.

More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were canceled. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left.

With so many people out of work and school on Tuesday, it also left time for some fun. In Boston, a person dressed in a yeti costume roamed the streets, becoming a national phenomenon in a matter of hours. And in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, an afternoon snowball fight advertised on Facebook drew a good-sized crowd to Market Square.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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