World

Boston snow reaches historic levels as New England gets another blast

Another weekend, another major snow storm: The latest system to sweep the Northeast brought another 30 centimetres to Boston — on top of nearly 2 metres that has fallen over the last month — and tested New Englanders who say the winter is beginning to feel like one without end.

Latest system brought another 30 cm to Boston — on top of nearly 2 metres that has already fallen

Tom Ward shovels snow in front of his Norwood, Mass. home on Sunday. A storm brought a new round of wind-whipped snow to New England, forcing people to contend with a fourth winter onslaught in less than a month. (Steven Senne/Associated Press)

Another weekend, another major snow storm: The latest system to sweep the Northeast brought another 30 centimetres to Boston — on top of nearly 2 metres that has fallen over the last month — and tested New Englanders who say the winter is beginning to feel like one without end.

Even after the storm, forecasters warned of exceptionally cold air, perhaps the coldest yet of the season. Strong winds expected to continue into Monday reduced visibility, created drifts and complicated an ongoing cleanup effort. Forecasters were talking about another storm on the horizon for midweek.

"It's historic. It's biblical," attorney Frank Libby said he walked down a deserted street in Boston's Back Bay neighbourhood. "I think we're in uncharted territory. People just don't know how to deal with the logistics of it."

He had one message for Mother Nature: "Give us a break."

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A deep freeze

A bone-chilling blast of cold, with lows of minus-23 degrees was in the Sunday night forecast in parts of the region. The temperatures are expected to be the coldest of the season, according to the National Weather Service.

"We're dropping below zero and wind chills will be dropping to 28 below and maybe minus-31 by morning," said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson. "People should take it seriously. It is the coldest in Massachusetts in many years."

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      The Arctic cold front already had settled over Michigan by midday Sunday, sending temperatures plunging to minus-32 in the Upper Peninsula and minus-30 in the northern Lower Peninsula.

      Colin Kelly of Scituate, Massachusetts, said it's discouraging every time he looks at the forecast.

      "If I saw one day that was above freezing, I'd be very happy," he said. "I looked seven days ahead and every single day, the highest temperature I could see is 26 degrees [Fahrenheit]."

      Kelly was shovelling away a snow drift from his home's backup generator to have it ready in case they lost power.

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      Snow totals

      Some areas of New England reported nearly 60 cm of snow from the storm including Acushnet, Massachusetts with 55 cm, and Salisbury with 52 cm. Boston recorded 33 cm of new snow. At the easternmost tip of Maine, Lubechad had a full 60 cm.

      With many intersections already clogged by soaring snow banks, forces mobilized before the storm to remove piles of snow. Massachusetts called up the National Guard troops to help and Hanscom Air Force base outside Boston became a staging area for heavy equipment pouring in from eight other Northeast states.

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      Lightning and white out conditions

      Although the storm did not bring the eye-popping snow totals of others this season, it made its presence felt with lightning strikes and strong winds that left visibility close to zero for stretches along the coast.

      "Oh my goodness, it's a whiteout!" said Sue Baker of Lubec, Maine, observing the wind blowing outside her bed and breakfast, the Peacock House.

      The Coast Guard said it rescued an Australian father-son sailing team whose boat lost power and had its sails torn in 96 km/h winds about 225 kilometres southeast of Nantucket.

      In Vermont, the wind was enough to force shut-down of the Lake Champlain ferry cross between Charlotte and Essex, New York.

      On Cape Ann north of Boston, Patrick McGehee said he was awed by lightning strikes early Sunday morning when he took out his dog.

      "I wasn't sure what was going on, if it was some kind of spiritual event or what," said McGehee, the owner of the Mary's by the Sea summer rental business in Rockport. "The whole sky lit up like somebody lit up a lightbulb."

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      Planning an escape

      The Klose family — Clint, Sue and daughters Caitlin and Kiersten — attacked a mountain of snow in front of their Concord, New Hampshire, house Sunday morning. Just last week, Clint Klose booked a trip for the girls and him to Orlando, Florida.

      "You just need a break!" he said. "We need some Vitamin D that we've been deprived of."

      Klose said the family wouldn't forget this winter.

      "I would say it's been the harshest winter in the shortest amount of time," he said. "In the past five weeks, it's just been a slamming event and a slamming event and a slamming event one after the other."

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      'We're never closed'

      Regal Marketplace, a variety store in Whitman, Massachusetts, opened Sunday despite heavy snow and blizzard-like conditions. It did brisk business as plow drivers stopped in for coffee and energy drinks. People who live in the neighbourhood also came in for staples like bread and milk, but also a little something to get them through the storm — liquor.

      "We're never closed — no matter what — and people know that," said Bob Derochea, one of the store's managers. "They're going to be stuck in their houses, so they come in to buy alcohol so they can have a couple of highballs or whatever."

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      Southern snow too?

      New Englanders won't be the only ones with the winter blues, forecasters say. A snow storm could bring 15 to 22 inches of snow to parts of Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Freezing rain was forecast for northern Mississippi and 5 to 10 cm of snow and sleet will be possible in north Georgia.

      The storm also threatened Atlanta, where just over a year ago an ice storm trapped commuters for hours on the region's freeways.