Snowstorm chaos blows into NY, Boston
By Bridget Murphy, APBOSTON--A blizzard of potentially historic proportion, bringing up to 3 feet of snow, pounded the New York-to-Boston corridor — home to nearly 25 million people — grounding flights, closing workplaces and sending people rushing to get home.
February 10, 2013, 12:32 am TWN
By early Saturday, more than 18.5 inches (47 centimeters) of snow had fallen in parts of central Connecticut, and more than 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) covered parts of Mansfield, Massachusetts, a half-hour drive southwest of Boston. Throughout the Northeast, more than 500,000 homes and businesses lost electricity as wet, heavy snow, freezing rain and howling winds caused havoc.
From New Jersey to Maine, shoppers Friday crowded into supermarkets and hardware stores to buy food, snow shovels, flashlights and generators, something that became a precious commodity after Superstorm Sandy in October. Others gassed up their cars, another lesson learned all too well after Sandy. Across much of New England, schools closed well ahead of the first snowflakes.
“This is a storm of major proportions,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino warned. “Stay off the roads. Stay home.”
Airlines cancelled more than 4,300 flights through Saturday. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick banned all traffic from roads Friday afternoon, believed to be the state's first such ban since the blizzard of 1978.
“This one doesn't come along every day. This is going to be a dangerous winter storm,” said Alan Dunham, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.
The heaviest snowfall was expected Friday night and into Saturday. Wind gusts could reach 75 mph (121 kph). Widespread power failures were feared, along with flooding in coastal areas still recovering from Superstorm Sandy in October.
The wind-whipped snowstorm mercifully arrived at the start of a weekend, which meant fewer cars on the road and extra time for sanitation crews to clear the mess before commuters in the New York-to-Boston region of roughly 25 million people have to go back to work. But it could also mean a weekend cooped up indoors.
In heavily Catholic Boston, the archdiocese urged parishioners to be prudent about attending Sunday Mass and reminded them that, under church law, the obligation “does not apply when there is grave difficulty in fulfilling this obligation.”
Halfway through what had been a mild winter across the Northeast, blizzard warnings were posted from parts of New Jersey to Maine. The National Weather Service said Boston could get close to 3 feet (0.91 meters) of snow by Saturday evening, while most of Rhode Island could receive more than 2 feet (0.61 meters), most of it falling overnight Friday into Saturday. Connecticut was bracing for 2 feet, and New York City was expecting as much as 14 inches (35.5 centimeters). East of New York City, nearly a foot of snow had fallen before midnight Friday.
Snow was being blamed for a 19-car pileup in Maine on Friday morning.
Amtrak rail stopped its Northeast trains Friday afternoon. The organizers of New York's Fashion Week — a closely watched series of fashion shows held under a big tent — said they will have extra crews to help with snow removal and will turn up the heat and add an extra layer to the venue.
Airlines cancelled more than 4,300 flights for Friday and Saturday, according to airline tracking website FlightAware. New York City's three main airports and Boston's Logan started shutting down in the afternoon.
Blizzard warnings were posted for parts of New Jersey and New York's Long Island, as well as portions of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, including Hartford, New Haven, Connecticut, and Providence. The warnings extended into New Hampshire and Maine.
In New England, it could prove to be among the top 10 snowstorms in history, and perhaps even break Boston's record of 27.6 inches (70 centimeters), set in 2003, the National Weather Service said.