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Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Blizzard brings heavy snow to Boston, Nantuckett dark.
Blizzard brings heavy snow, strong winds to Mass.
By Evan Allen, Jenna Russell, Laura Crimaldi, Kathy McCabe, Travis Andersen, John R. Ellement and Martin FinucaneGLOBE STAFF JANUARY 27, 2015
Is the end of the blizzard of 2015 in sight?
The National Weather Service says residents of Eastern Massachusetts can expect moderate to heavy snow for another few hours before it tapers off to lighter snow by early evening. Snow will gradually diminish and end from west to east tonight, the forecasters said.
The historic nor’easter was expected to dump as much as 30 inches in Eastern and Southeastern Massachusetts. But even before noon, Framingham hit that mark, and several communities were approaching it.
With 20.8 inches recorded in Boston this afternoon, it appeared the storm was on track to make it into the Top 10 ever recorded in the city.
BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF
Water flooded the parking lot and buildings at the Chatham Fish Pier early Tuesday morning
Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday afternoon lifted a travel ban in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, where, forecasters said, people only saw a moderate snowstorm. But the travel ban remained in effect all along the Massachusetts Turnpike and in the rest of the state.
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Forecasters said 1 to 2 feet of snow would fall in many places, with some spots seeing as much as 3 feet.
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Baker said the state was experiencing two storms: One west of Worcester that was “relatively minor, manageable and pretty well dealt with,’’ and a second, still powerful one, that continued to dump snow on Worcester and all points east, generating as much as 10 more inches of snow and whiteout conditions.
“For now the Eastern Mass. [travel ban] piece needs to stay in place,’’ Baker said.
3 months to baseball season. - TGFP.
Baker said state officials have not been alerted to any serious injuries or deaths related to the storm.
“I’m certainly hoping that continues to be the case,’’ he said.
Baker said he remained concerned about the high tide this afternoon in coastal communities that have been battered by the nor’easter, requiring the evacuation of some residents.
But in a news conference surrounded by top state public safety officials at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Framingham, he said, “I don’t think people feel at this point that it’s much beyond what would typically be the case for this kind of event.”
State officials said in a news conference Tuesday morning that evacuations were necessary in Hull, Marshfield, and Scituate as the morning’s high tide pushed the Atlantic Ocean into neighborhoods routinely flooded during storms, but none of the evacuations constituted an emergency.
“These were not life-and-death situations,’’ MEMA director Kurt Schwartz said, adding that high-water vehicles were used by state and local governments to rescue people who had chosen to stay in their homes and ignored requests from officials to leave before the tide arrived.
Statewide, Schwartz said, “We have not had any catastrophic issues, life safety issues, overnight.’’
Baker said at the morning news conference that only about 200 people statewide had sought shelter, reflecting fewer power outages than authorities once feared. Baker attributed that to cold temperatures resulting in light, fluffy snow — the kind less likely to bring down power lines.
By mid-morning, with the snow still coming down hard, the National Weather Service had fielded unofficial reports of 30 inches in Framingham, 28 inches in Littleton, and 27 inches in Tyngsborough. A number of other communities recorded snow depths greater than 2 feet, including Worcester, where the 25 inches recorded appeared likely to place it among the top 5 ever recorded there.
The storm forced the shutdown of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth when two transmission lines that carry power from the plant to the power grid were knocked down, said Matthew Beaton, state environmental secretary.
He said the plant was “safe and secure” and that the problems had happened on the transmission, rather than generating, side of the plant.
Forecasters said at 9 a.m. that they expected another 6 to 10 inches of snow from the storm. But they also said that far western Massachusetts would only see a moderate snowstorm. The city of Boston said at around 10:30 a.m. that it expected another 10 to 14 inches.
Forecasters extended a blizzard warning until 8 p.m.
The weather service had warned of a massive storm affecting metropolises from Philadelphia to Boston. But the storm didn’t deliver as much of a blow as had been expected in New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Travel bans that had been in effect have now been lifted. And New York’s buses, subways and trains are getting back into service, The Associated Press reported.
Baker said he was casting a wary eye toward this afternoon’s high tide. While the tide will not be as high as Tuesday morning’s level, Dunten said there was likely to be a second round of flooding – or coastal erosion – on Nantucket and Plum islands and in Sandwich, Plymouth, and Scituate.
Peak wind gusts of 76 miles per hour were recorded on Nantucket, 75 in Chatham, 74 on Martha’s Vineyard, and 74 in Plymouth.
In Scituate, after the predawn high tide, residents along Central Avenue and Surfside Road called for help to evacuate their flooded homes.
Town officials declared a state of emergency at 4:55 a.m. About a dozen people had sought shelter at Scituate High School.
Town officials said a vehicle washed away on Edward Foster Road, and some streets in the Humarock and Brant Rock neighborhoods near the Marshfield-Scituate line were impassable because flood waters four or more feet deep.
On Plum Island, waves fueled by howling winds that reached 45 miles per hour crashed over granite sea walls erected in 2013, but homes remained undamaged. Waves reached 16½ feet, according to surf-forecast.com.
“This is just basically a typical high tide during a nor’easter,” said Bob Connors, a 39-year resident of Annapolis Way, standing in his living room overlooking the ocean, just after the 4:42 a.m. high tide.
At White Horse Beach in the Manomet section of Plymouth, a fierce combination of waves and winds pushed water between the rows of small wooden beach cottages after the 4:33 a.m. high tide.
A thick, frigid mixture of ocean water, yellow sand and icy slush filled in around the boarded-up homes, spilling down walkways, filling parking lots and flooding adjacent Taylor Avenue with a foot of foamy storm sludge.
In Chatham, where the powerful winds made snowflakes feel like pebbles, fisherman John Small arrived at the Chatham Fish Pier to find it surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean early Tuesday.
BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF
Water flooded the parking lot and buildings at the Chatham Fish Pier early Tuesday morning.
“The tide is higher than I have ever seen it,’’ said Small, who estimated it was four feet higher than in the past. “This storm is doing some damage.’’
Marinas and parking lots along Shore Road in Chatham were flooded early Tuesday.
The high winds and steady snowfall were affecting utilities across Massachusetts, although no widespread outages had been reported. By 11 a.m., a total of about 31,000 power outages were reported, up from 5,000 at 6 a.m. The number included 12,000 customers on Nantucket, which was completely without power, and about 5,000 at the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown, also a near-complete outage.
The governor had ordered a state of emergency on Monday, issuing a driving ban and shutting down the MBTA, which hopes to resume operations Wednesday.
He also called up 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to help in storm response.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh declared a snow emergency in Boston and issued a parking ban on major arteries for Tuesday.
“We’re trying to stay ahead of the storm,” Walsh told WCVB-TV (Channel 5). He said the city has 700 pieces of equipment out as part of the response.
Generally, he said, the streets have been quiet, with just a few problems, including a hydrant hit by a plow. The fire department also had two fire calls.
Walsh urged residents to be careful clearing snow, to keep an eye on neighbors, and to obey travel restrictions in place for the storm
“Don’t expect to be going out today,” the mayor said. “You won’t be driving around.”
Walsh ordered Boston schools closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Most Massachusetts school systems are closed Tuesday, with decisions on whether to open Wednesday to be made later in the day.
State offices also will be closed Tuesday, and postal service will be suspended for the day in Greater Boston. State and federal courthouses are also closed Tuesday.
At Logan International Airport, all flights were halted Monday night and had not resumed Tuesday morning.
As of about 10:30 a.m., Michael Verseckes, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation reported, the state had deployed 3,900 pieces of equipment statewide. Beginning at 10 p.m. Monday, tolls were waived until further notice on the Massachusetts Turnpike, Tobin Bridge, and harbor tunnels.
Plymouth, Provincetown power outages on the rise
By Jay Fitzgerald GLOBE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY 27, 2015
Plymouth and Provincetown are getting hit with widespread outages tied to today’s brutal blizzard that is dumping record amounts of snow on the region and whipping up damaging ocean waves along coastal areas.
About 3,352 customers have now lost electricity in Plymouth, out of a total of 29,342 customers, according to recent data from NStar.
Michael Durand, a spokesman for NStar, said the Plymouth outages are “weather related and unrelated” to this morning’s shutdown of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in the community.
A spokesperson at Entergy, owner of the Pilgrim plant, said the facility automatically shut down at about 4 a.m. today as a “safety precaution” after electrical connections that the station uses to transmit electricity to the grid were “interrupted by the severe storm.”
“All safety systems worked as designed,” said Lauren Burm, the Entergy spokesperson. “Plant conditions are stable and there is no threat to the safety of plant workers or the public.”
Power outage totals in Mass.
A look at the number of homes without power in the state.
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Entergy, which said a similar mishap occurred a few years ago, has indicated that it could take a few days to get the station up and running again.
In Provincetown, nearly the entire town has lost electricity, with 5,553 outages reported, out of a total of 5,686 customers, according to data from NStar. “We’re working on weather-related damage to an electrical distribution line that serves Provincetown,” Durand said.
Across eastern Massachusetts, about 31,624 NStar and National Grid customers have lost power since the mega-storm hit the region Tuesday evening. The utilities were bracing for far worse, but the snowfall has been lighter and fluffier than predicted, limiting damage.
The storm may be easing a bit this afternoon, but utilities are still on high alert for outages tied to continued high winds, coastal flooding, and more snow accumulation.
On Nantucket, virtually all of National Grid’s 12,800 electrical customers are still without power. National Grid said the island’s hospital and police and fire stations have their own back-up generators and they have some power. But the utility is still trying to hook up those facilities with larger generators that can provide more electricity, said spokesman Jake Navarro.
“We are still working on connecting on-island generation,” Navarro said. “We have to make sure the power lines that would carry the power from the generators are in good shape and undamaged, and there is serious ice accretion on the island at this point.”
National Grid has indicated that it may take far longer to get power to the rest of Nantucket.