Yet another blizzard belly flops onto New England
"There's a little bit of déjà vu all over again," said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, of the fourth major storm to hit the region in under a month.
A storm brought a new round of wind-whipped snow to New England on Sunday, threatening white-out conditions in coastal areas and forcing people to contend with a fourth winter onslaught in less than a month.
A blizzard warning was in effect for coastal communities from Rhode Island to Maine into Monday; and a bone-chilling blast of cold, with lows of minus-10 degrees was in the Sunday night forecast in parts of the region.
With more than 6 feet of snow already standing in some areas from previous storms, crews struggled to keep snow-clogged roads clear as fresh snow blew in as soon as they passed.
Half a foot of snow had fallen across much of eastern Massachusetts by daybreak Sunday, with Ipswich recording 20 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Before it is all over, southern New England could get several more inches and coastal areas of New Hampshire and southern Maine could see up to 2 feet, weather forecasters said.
"The best thing people can do is stay home, stay indoors," said William Babcock, a weather service meteorologist.
Gov. Charlie Baker in Massachusetts and Gov. Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island warned motorists to stay off the roads.
Baker said Sunday morning that high tide was not as severe as anticipated, with no reports of major flooding, but warned that winds gusting over 60 mph could bring power outages.
"There's a little bit of deja vu all over again in this," he said.
Transportation officials in the region had taken precautions. Nearly 400 Sunday flights were canceled at Boston's Logan International Airport, and none was scheduled Sunday morning. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority canceled all rail, bus and ferry service in the Boston area on Sunday.
Babcock said gusts could max out at 75 mph — hurricane territory — on Cape Cod. Officials warned of possible power outages, and north-facing or vulnerable coastal areas could suffer flooding and beach erosion, the weather service said.
Ahead of the storm, forces gathered to remove piles of snow and ready for the next round.
Massachusetts called up hundreds of National Guard troops to assist with snow removal, and the Hanscom Air Force base outside Boston became a staging area for heavy equipment pouring in from eight other Northeast states to help in the effort.
Crews worked in Boston's Financial District to remove the massive amounts of snow that clogged streets and triggered numerous roof collapses.
In southern New Hampshire, employees at a tree service volunteered to clear snow from the roof of Londonderry South Elementary School. Dave Burl of Accurate Tree Service told WMUR-TV the roof was engineered to hold 44 pounds per square foot, and the weight was already approaching 30 pounds per square foot.
The bad weather spanned several states — winter storm warnings extended west into Michigan and Ohio, where whiteout conditions led to a pileup on the Ohio Turnpike that killed at least two people. Another storm-related crash on the New York Thruway south of Buffalo killed one person.