Two dead after blizzard wallops Massachusetts; residents evacuated in shore communities
A recordbreaking blizzard dumped more than 30 inches of snow on some areas of Massachusetts, cutting power to hundreds of thousands, and battering coastal communities with big waves and howling wind. Two people died in Boston from carbon monoxide because they were sitting in running cars with tailpipes blocked by piles of snow.
Boston public safety officials said that a 14-year-old boy died this morning when he went inside a small sedan on Nazing Street in Roxbury to keep warm and take a break from shoveling. A man was found dead just a few hours later on Woolson Street in Mattapan in a running car. Two young children were also injured by carbon monoxide poisoning in a car in East Boston, but officials said they were expected to survive.
Officials urged people to clear snow away before starting their cars, warning that the deadly gas can collect inside if it can’t escape through the tailpipe.
Governor Deval Patrick lifted a ban on travel that he had put in place at 4 p.m. Friday.
In a news conference at the state emergency bunker in Framingham, he asked people to be patient with the pace of storm recovery efforts. “We have a lot of snow to dispose of and to remove. And it will take some time to do that. That is a prerequisite to ... getting power restored,” he said.
National Guard troops headed to coastal communities to assist in evacuations due to giant waves and storm surges that sent the ocean sweeping onto shoreside roads and homes.
The storm howled its way into the record books. The National Weather Service said 24.9 inches of snow fell at Logan International Airport, the fifth highest snowfall ever recorded.
For some, there was a bright side: An unfamiliar landscape of pristine snow with drifts sculpted by the wind. Some people cross-country skied and snowboarded on the iconic Boston Common. And in Worcester, state officials said, a National Guard EMT and a local EMT delivered a baby at 3 a.m. today, in the teeth of the storm.
NStar reported about 232,000 outages, while National Grid reported about 122,000, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said this evening. update. That was down from more than 400,000 outages reported earlier in the day. State officials said crews were now out on the road, working to restore power.
Numerous towns in the state reported more than 20 inches of snow. Spencer held the record as of mid-morning, reporting 30.5 inches. The highest wind gust, 77 miles per hour, was recorded at Hyannis at 11:45 p.m.
Patrick lifted the travel ban in two phases, first for communities west of Interstate 91 and on the island of Nantucket. The ban, which has not been used by a governor since the legendary Blizzard of ‘78, expired statewide at 4 p.m., 24 hours after it went into effect.
“The overnight travel ban worked extremely well for us,” Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency director Kurt Schwartz said at an earlier news conference. “We’re very happy this morning that we’re not dealing with clogged arteries, clogged secondary roads, and we can focus where we need to focus.”
Those hoping to use public transportation were out of luck. The MBTA was not able to restore service today. Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey said at the news conference with the governor and other officials at the MEMA bunker that the MBTA would try to resume some service Sunday but was really aiming for Monday morning rush hour.
In Boston, two condo buildings in the West End lost power Friday night due to an electrical fire. Because of the storm, officials decided to leave people in place. They remained without power this morning, said Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald. One person was also displaced in a fire early this morning on Burton Avenue in Roxbury.
Power went out in all of the city of Quincy due to a major line, or lines, down, police said. Several streets were also evacuated, including Post Island Road, Babcock Street and Narragansett Road.
About 25 people spent Friday night in an emergency shelter at Quincy High School, some of whom evacuated their homes due to flooding concerns. Main roads were passable in the city this morning, but side streets were piled too high in snow for traffic.
“The snow is falling too fast to keep up,” said Chris Walker, spokesman for Mayor Thomas Koch.
As the morning high tide swelled an angry ocean already roiled by high winds of the Blizzard of 2013, members of the National Guard rushed to coastal communities to evacuate shoreline residents.
“What were streets a little while ago could look like canals in a lot of these towns up and down the coast,” said MEMA spokesman Peter Judge. There were evacuations and flooding both north and south of Boston.
Major General L. Scott Rice, head of the Massachusetts National Guard, said a total of 5,000 National Guard members would be assisting in storm recovery efforts by the end of the day.
Schwartz said the National Guard had sent personnel to Hull, and more were en route to Marshfield, Scituate, and Weymouth. Some troops were also still up in the Plum Island area. A request for help had also just come in from Salisbury, Schwartz said at the morning briefing.
In a statement issued shortly before noon today, Mayor Menino said that just nine people were without power in the state’s largest city, and that no roads were closed because of downed trees or storm damage.
Menino said plow crews would be halting to take a rest, but the administration expects to launch a major snowplowing push Sunday to ensure that life can return to normal when the workweek begins on Monday.
The storm’s impact was felt at the Pilgrim Station nuclear plant in Plymouth, which announced early this morning that it had shut down due to a loss of outside power.
Plant officials said in a statement that the plant “shut down automatically as designed ... and standby diesel generators started to power safety systems. The plant is in a safe, secure condition and will remain on backup power supply until off-site power is restored.”
Plant spokeswoman Carol Wightman said in an e-mail statement later this morning that the plant remained off-line and there were “no safety concerns for workers or the public” as NStar worked to restore power.
Amtrak canceled all trains between New York and Boston Saturday, as crews continued to clear snow and downed trees from the tracks and made repairs. Service between Springfield and New Haven also shut down; Downeaster service between Brunswick, Maine, and Boston has not been determined. Decisions about Sunday service will be made later in the day.
Logan International Airport will not have a runway open until at least 11 p.m. tonight, airport officials said. Authorities pulled crews off the airfield for five hours overnight due to whiteout conditions, causing the snow to pile up.
“It’s very tough going and there’s still challenging conditions,” said Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan.
Greyhound, Peter Pan, BoltBus, and Megabus have all canceled Saturday service in and out of Boston; changes to Sunday service have not been announced.Katie Johnston, John R. Ellement and Sean P. Murphy of the Globe staff contributed to this report.