154K+ Remain Without Power in Massachusetts as Blizzard Blasts Region

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said power outages are the "biggest concern"

The third major nor'easter to hit the Northeast in two weeks lashed a storm-weary New England with heavy snow, whipping winds and blizzard conditions in some areas.

Across Massachusetts, more than 154,000 customers were without power as of 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, mostly in the southeastern part of the state. Thousands more lost power in the other New England states.

A blizzard was confirmed in Boston, as well as parts of Massachusetts' South Shore and Cape Cod. Blizzard warnings were issued for the entire coast of Maine, New Hampshire and most of Massachusetts. The rest of New England was under a winter storm warning.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker continued to urge residents to remain at home during the worst of the storm during a press conference Tuesday. Non-emergency state employees did not have to report to work. 

The governor said power outages are the "biggest concern" due to the heaviness of the snow and the strength of the wind gusts.

"It would be very difficult for [utility crews] to get out there and start working those power outages until the snow stops falling and the wind stops blowing," Baker said.

In Carver, power crews were working through the night Tuesday, while the majority of the town was without power.

Non-emergency employees of Massachusetts' executive branch were asked not to come into work Tuesday. Baker announced Tuesday night that their start time Wednesday would be delayed until 11 a.m.

In the Cape Cod town of Falmouth, police urged residents to shelter in place after receiving over 100 reports of downed trees and wires.

The storm is expected to last through most of the day Tuesday and has already begun disrupting road and air travel.

More than 1,500 canceled flights — over 860 of them to and from Boston Logan Airport — were reported within, into or out of the U.S. on Tuesday, according to the flight-tracking site FlightAware. Airlines pre-emptively canceled nearly 160 Wednesday flights, with over 80 of those scrapped to and from Logan.

On the ground, Amtrak suspended service between Boston and New York City for the day on Tuesday. Amtrak initially said train service would be suspended until at least 11 a.m. The agency said service will be restored "pending improved conditions."

The MBTA and the commuter rail operated on a reduced schedule Tuesday, but normal service is expected Wednesday. All ferry service was suspended during the storm.

Joe Rotella ducked into a train station as he tried to find his way to a hotel that's hosting a convention where he's speaking. Organizers were scrambling to find ways to video conference in speakers whose planes were delayed or canceled, said Rotella, the chief medical officer with the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

"As a visitor to Boston, I've been looking forward to this for months and this is kind of an adventure for me," the Louisville, Kentucky, man said. "I didn't have to go through the last two nor'easters so this still feels like fun."

At the Yotel hotel in Boston's Seaport neighborhood, guests were busy rescheduling their flights over breakfast or, in the case of 80-year-old Roy Zaloom of Ramsey, New Jersey, preparing for a morning drive back home with his family.

"Let's' hope this is the end of it, the end of the snow. We've had too much of it at one time," said Zaloom, recalling that he got a foot in New Jersey last week.

Officials with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said more than 3,300 crews were out treating and clearing the snow-covered roadways. Speeds on the Mass Pike were reduced to 40 and later 20 mph from the New York border to Boston. Numerous crashes were reported throughout the day, several of them involving jackknifed tractor-trailers.

The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as three or more hours of sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 mph or greater; and falling or blowing snow that reduces visibility frequently to less than one-quarter of a mile. Wind gusts of nearly 70 mph were reported on Cape Cod in the early stages of the storm.

Boston and eastern Massachusetts, as well as Rhode Island, could get a foot and a half of snow, with less to the west of the city.

Schools across the region announced they would be closed on Tuesday, including in Boston and Providence. Boston and a handful of other schools have already announced closures for Wednesday, with additional announcements expected to come later in the day.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday morning that it was still too early to decide whether schools would be open on Wednesday. The school year has already been extended to June 26 due to the number of snow days this year. The mayor is scheduled to hold a press conference at 4 p.m.

"Originally we thought the snow was gonna end early in the afternoon, so it would be good for tomorrow, but who knows yet? We don’t know yet until as we get into this day," said Walsh.

An on-street-parking ban is in effect in Boston. For details on the ban and where you can park, click here. Residents will be allowed to use space savers for parking spots until 48 hours after the end of the storm.

Maine also is bracing for a hard hit from Tuesday's storm. The Portland International Jetport has had 75.5 inches of snow, far above the normal for the date of 51.8 inches, with another 12 to 18 inches is on the way, said James Brown, of the National Weather Service.

"We're not out of winter yet, that's for sure," Paul Knight, of Portland, said as snow accumulated on his eyebrows during a stroll. "The groundhog was right. Six more weeks of winter, and probably then some."

In New Hampshire, where as much as 14 inches of snow is forecast, the storm is wreaking havoc with the age-old town meeting tradition. But Secretary of State William Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said under state law, town meeting elections must go on.

Last year, nearly 80 communities postponed their annual elections due to snow, creating widespread confusion over who has the authority to change the date, traditionally the second Tuesday of March. While the Legislature is still working to clarify the law, the secretary of state was adamant this year that towns can't make the call. Most appeared to be heeding that warning Tuesday.

Warner town moderator Ray Martin said turnout was steady early as voters hoped to avoid the worst of the snow later. Standing outside Town Hall, selectman candidate Ed Ordway said those who really want to change things won't be stopped by a little snow.

In Rhode Island, the storm closed schools and businesses across the state, knocked out power and made driving treacherous. Gov. Gina Raimondo urged residents to stay off the roads and let the plows and work crews do their jobs.

"I know we're all ready for winter to be over. This is the third storm in a row. I know folks are weary with power outages but hang in there with us," the governor said.

More than a foot of snow is expected in parts of Connecticut, where Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is urging people to "take it slow and remember their winter weather driving skills."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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