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John Silver shovels between buried cars in front of his home on Third street in the South Boston neighborhood of Boston, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. A behemoth storm packing hurricane-force wind gusts and blizzard conditions swept through the Northeast on Saturday, dumping more than 2 feet of snow on New England and knocking out power to 650,000 homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
The big dig-out: New England, New York slammed with snow
First Published Feb 09 2013 11:03 am • Last Updated Feb 09 2013 09:29 pm

New Englanders struggled to dig out from as much as 3 feet of snow Saturday and emergency crews used snowmobiles to reach shivering motorists stranded on New York’s Long Island after a howling storm swept through the Northeast.

About 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity, and some could be cold and dark for days. Many roads across the New York-to-Boston corridor of roughly 25 million people were impassable. Cars were entombed by drifts. And some people woke up in the morning to find the snow packed so high they couldn’t get their doors open.

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"It’s like lifting cement. They say it’s 2 feet, but I think it’s more like 3 feet," said Michael Levesque, who was shoveling snow in Quincy, Mass., as part of a work crew for a landscaping company.

At least four deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the overnight snowstorm, including an 11-year-old boy in Boston who was overcome by carbon monoxide as he sat in a running car to keep warm while his father shoveled Saturday morning.

In Providence, Jason Harrison had been working for nearly three hours to clear 3 feet of snow that blocked his driveway and front walk and still had more work to do. His snowblower, he said, "has already paid for itself."

But neighbors Rebekah and John Speck strapped on cross-country skis and coasted past snowdrifts 5 feet high and drooping telephone lines encrusted with snow.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee cautioned that while the snow had stopped, the danger hadn’t passed: "People need to take this storm seriously, even after it’s over. If you have any kind of heart condition, be careful with the shoveling."

With wind gusting over 80 mph in places, the storm appeared to hit hardest along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between the New York metropolitan area and Maine. Milford., Conn., got 38 inches of snow, and Portland, Maine, recorded 31.9 inches, shattering a 1979 record. Several communities in New York and across New England got more than 2 feet.

Still, the storm was not as bad as the some forecasts led many to fear, and not as dire as the Blizzard of ‘78, used by longtime New Englanders as the benchmark by which all other winter storms are measured.

By midday Saturday, the National Weather Service reported preliminary snowfall totals of 21.8 inches in Boston, ranking the storm sixth for all-time snowfall. Bradley Airport near Hartford, Conn., got 22 inches, for No. 2 in the record books.


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In New York, where Central Park recorded 11 inches of snow, not even enough to make the all-time Top 10 list, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city "dodged a bullet" and its streets were "in great shape." The three major airports — LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark, N.J. — were up and running by late morning after shutting down the evening before.

Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island imposed travel bans to keep cars off the road and let plows do their work, and National Guardsmen joined state crews in clearing Connecticut highways.

In New York, hundreds of motorists abandoned their vehicles on the roads overnight on Long Island, which got 2½ feet of snow, and even snowplows got stuck.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked cities and towns to send more plows, and emergency workers used snowmobiles to reach stranded motorists, some of whom spent the night bundled up in their cars.

Richard Ebbrecht, a chiropractor, left his office in Brooklyn at 3 p.m. on Friday and headed for home in Middle Island, N.Y., but got stuck six or seven times on the Long Island Expressway and other roads.

"There was a bunch of us Long Islanders. We were all helping each other, shoveling, pushing," he said. He finally gave up and settled in for the night in his car just two miles from his destination. At 8 a.m., when it was light out, he walked home.

"I could run my car and keep the heat on and listen to the radio a little bit," he said. "It was very icy under my car. That’s why my car is still there."

Across much of New England, streets were empty of cars and dotted instead with children who had never seen so much snow and were jumping into snowbanks and making forts. Snow was waist-high in the mostly empty streets of Boston. Plows made some thoroughfares passable but piled even more snow on cars parked on the city’s narrow streets.

Boston’s Logan Airport was not expected to resume operations until late Saturday night.

Around the New York metropolitan area, many victims of Superstorm Sandy were mercifully spared another round of flooding, property damage and power failures.

"I was very lucky and I never even lost power," said Susan Kelly of Bayville. "We were dry as anything. My new roof was fantastic. Other than digging out, this storm was a nice storm." As for the shoveling, "I got two hours of exercise."

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A state-by-state look at the Northeast blizzard

A look at effects in states and provinces in the path of the massive storm that swept across the Northeast and southern Canada:

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CONNECTICUT

The storm dumped at least 2 feet of snow throughout Connecticut, paralyzing much of the state. The governor ordered all roads closed Saturday through midafternoon, and even emergency responders got stuck on highways.

The National Guard was brought in to help clear snow in New Haven, which got 34 inches. Snow totals were 32 inches in Manchester and 20 inches in Danbury.

The state’s largest utility, Connecticut Light & Power, reported power failures affecting 38,000 homes and businesses.

Residents in coastal areas battered in October by Superstorm Sandy dug out from snow but faced no new flooding.

A woman in her 80s was killed Friday night in Prospect by a hit-and-run driver as she was clearing snow, Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

———

MAINE

Portland set a record snowfall reading of 31.9 inches, the National Weather Service said, and blowing snow reduced visibility on the coast.

Vehicles, including state police cruisers, were stuck in the deep snow, state police said, warning that stranded drivers should expect long waits for tow trucks. About 12,000 homes and businesses lost power.

In Rangley, the weather didn’t stop a massive snowmobile parade. Organizers said 157 snowmobiles showed for the event, which raised close to $7,000 for cystic fibrosis research.

However, Saturday’s National Toboggan Championships races were postponed for a day.

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MASSACHUSETTS

Boston was blanketed in up to 2 feet of snow, falling short of the city’s record of 27.6 inches set in 2003. In some communities just outside the city, totals were higher, including 30 inches in Quincy and Framingham.

An 11-year-old boy died of carbon monoxide poisoning after being overcome as he sat in a running car to keep warm, while his father was shoveling snow to get the car out of a snow bank in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

Public transit in the city was suspended, and Logan Airport was closed and expected to reopen Saturday night.

More than 400,000 customers lost power in the state, and some were warned to expect the outages to last for days. NStar said in many areas it was too dangerous Saturday to send in crews. National Guard troops were helping evacuate coastal areas where there was some flooding.

The state enforced its first travel ban on roads since the Blizzard of ‘78, a ferocious storm that dropped 27 inches of snow, packed hurricane-force winds and claimed dozens of lives. State police credited the travel ban, which was being lifted late afternoon Saturday, with only 30 drivers needing to be rescued.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth shut down after losing off-site power. There’s no threat to public safety, authorities said.

In heavily Catholic Boston, the archdiocese urged parishioners to be prudent and reminded them that, under church law, the requirement to attend Sunday Mass “does not apply when there is grave difficulty in fulfilling this obligation.”

The Boston Bruins postponed their Saturday game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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NEW JERSEY

The state was spared the worst of the storm, and the highest snowfalls were spread across northern New Jersey, where River Vale got 15 inches, the National Weather Service reported.

Bus and train service that was suspended Friday night as the storm intensified was restored Saturday, and Newark Liberty Airport reopened Saturday morning after runways were closed overnight for snow removal. Hundreds of flights were canceled.

Flooding, seen on a massive scale during Superstorm Sandy, did not appear to cause major problems.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Saturday morning’s high tide sent waves crashing into closed roads along the seacoast, local police said, but there were no reports of significant damage.

Hampton Police say parts of Ocean Boulevard and a few other streets close to the beach were closed.

Elsewhere, snow plows were busy but many drivers appeared to heed Gov. Maggie Hassan’s warning to stay off the roads until at least midafternoon. In Concord, plow driver Jim Pierce said road conditions were awful, and while the fluffy consistency of the snow made it relatively easy to push around, the sheer volume made it a challenge.

Both Seabrook and East Hampstead saw 26 inches of snow. There were only a few hundred power outages statewide.

NEW JERSEY

The state was spared the worst of the storm, and the highest snowfalls were spread across northern New Jersey, where River Vale got 15 inches, the National Weather Service reported.

Bus and train service that was suspended Friday night as the storm intensified was restored Saturday, and Newark Liberty Airport reopened Saturday morning after runways were closed overnight for snow removal. Hundreds of flights were canceled.

Flooding, seen on a massive scale during Superstorm Sandy, did not appear to cause major problems.

Officials say just a few thousand customers lost power during the storm, and nearly all had their service restored by early Saturday afternoon.

———

NEW YORK

Police had to use snowmobiles to reach ambulances, fire trucks, police vehicles, some snowplow trucks and passenger vehicles stranded overnight on the Long Island Expressway. About 10,000 homes and businesses lost power on Long Island, which saw as much as 2½ feet of snow.

About a foot of snow fell New York City, which was “in great shape,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. Plows were out overnight and he said all streets would be cleared by the end of the day. The Staten Island neighborhoods hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy dodged another round of flooding that was feared from the storm.

Airports reopened Saturday, but Amtrak said trains between New York and Boston would be suspended Saturday.

Two deaths in the state were blamed on the storm. A 23-year-old man plowing his driveway with a farm tractor went off the edge of the road and was killed in Columbia County, police said. A 74-year-old was fatally struck by a car in Poughkeepsie; the driver said she lost control in the snowy conditions, police said.

Upstate, 10-12 inches of snow fell in the Hudson Valley and Adirondacks, 8 inches in Buffalo and a foot in Rochester.

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ONTARIO

At least 350 traffic collisions were reported in Toronto, and at least three people died in southern Ontario.

Many flights were canceled in Toronto, some of them because destination airports in the United States were closed by the snow.

An 80-year-old woman in Hamilton collapsed while shoveling her driveway, and two men were killed in car crashes, one of them in a multi-vehicle collision.

———

PENNSYLVANIA

Parts of the state saw half a foot of snow, including in northeastern Pennsylvania, but the state escaped the brunt of the storm. Snow-covered roads made for treacherous driving overnight, with numerous accidents reported, but no major crashes or road closures.

———

RHODE ISLAND

Residents were urged to stay off the roads to allow crews to clear up to 2 feet of snow. About 180,000 homes and businesses lost power, and utilities warned it could be out for days.

Most people appeared to heed the warnings in Providence, where typically busy streets were empty Saturday morning as the wind blew snow into drifts that buried cars and parking lots.

No accidents or injuries were reported on state highways, although dozens of cars got stuck in the snow, state police said.

T.F. Green Airport remained closed Saturday and all departing flights for the day were canceled.

———

VERMONT

Wind, not snow or tides, was the issue in Vermont. Ferry service between Charlotte, Vt., and Essex, N.Y., was closed Saturday because of the gusts. Parts of the state saw 10 inches of snow.



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