Baker: Storm travel ban to end at midnight
By BOB SALSBERG and DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) â A blizzard pounded Massachusetts with heavy snow and hurricane-force winds Tuesday, but state officials reported fewer power outages than expected from the storm and no catastrophic flooding along the coastline.
Here is the latest on the storm:
Gov. Charlie Baker announced at a late afternoon briefing in the state's emergency management bunker that the ban on nonessential motor vehicle travel would end at midnight Tuesday. But he cautioned that getting around could still be difficult, especially on many secondary roads that had yet to be fully cleared, and a parking ban remained in effect in Boston. Normal service was scheduled to resume Wednesday on the MBTA, though some bus routes could remain impassable and parking spaces might be scarse at commuter rail stations because of all the snow. Logan International Airport was scheduled to reopen at 6 a.m. Wednesday, but Stephanie Pollack, the state's transportation secretary, said it would likely take several more hours for airlines to ramp up service.
Fears expressed by state officials before the storm that hundreds of thousands of people might lose power did not materialize. Only don't tell that to the year-round residents of Nantucket. Virtually the entire island â more than 12,800 customers â lost electricity. Nantucket Cottage Hospital was operating on generator power and managed to safely deliver a "blizzard baby" early Tuesday. "If you're the one dealing with power outages you don't really care that the number is a lot less than expected, but the fact that we are dealing with 25,000 power outages and not 250,000 I think is a little bit of a blessing in all of this," Baker said.
By nightfall Tuesday, much of the state had reported 2 feet of snow and some communities, including Worcester, Framingham and Lunenburg, were reporting 30 inches or more from what Baker called a "historic" storm in many places. But as the governor noted, snowfall totals were considerably lower in western Massachusetts, where the travel ban had been lifted earlier in the day.
Eastern Massachusetts was lashed by ferocious winds during the storm, with some of the strongest gusts recorded on Cape Cod and the islands. The National Weather Service reported a 78 mph gust on Nantucket, 75 mph gust in Chatham and 74 mph on Martha's Vineyard.
The blizzard punched out a section of the seawall in the coastal town of Marshfield, police said, and the storm surge caused major damage to an unoccupied home in the Green Harbor section. Coastal flooding along with some voluntary evacuations were also reported in some other areas along the state's coastline, but officials said the damage did not appear to be worse than past storms and no deaths or serious injuries were reported.
LIFE ON THE OCEANFRONT
As far as Steve Berlo is concerned, dealing with the occasional vicious winter storm is worth it to live in a home on the ocean. Berlo voluntarily evacuated Monday after his power was shut off. But he got up early Tuesday to see if he could make it back to his oceanfront home in Scituate to assess damage and fire up the generators to prevent the pipes from freezing. "We've been here so long you go with the flow," he said. "Like we always say, five days a year it sucks to live here, but the rest of the year, it's good."
PILGRIM NUCLEAR PLANT
The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth was forced to go offline after its main transmission lines went down, but there was no danger, said Matthew Beaton, state secretary of energy and environmental affairs. It was not clear when the facility, the state's only nuclear reactor, would resume generating power.
'LIKE SAND HITTING YOUR FACE'
Bob Paglia walked his 13-year-old beagle, Snoopy, four times overnight, with high winds hitting him in the face. "The poor dog, he has to go to the bathroom, so we do what we have to do," said Paglia, of Whitman, a small town about 20 miles south of Boston. "The snow wasn't that bad, but when you get a wind gust of 40 to 45 mph hitting you in the face, that was not pleasant. It felt like sand hitting you in the face."
Even with the storm winding down and the travel ban set to be lifted, life won't return to normal overnight. Baker said only about 22,000 state employees with emergency designations should report to work Wednesday, and many public schools were expected to remain closed around the state.
Boston police helped bring a dozen or more doctors and nurses to work at city hospitals during the storm. Even Police Commissioner William Evans helped out, according to a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin Walsh. Health care workers were exempted from the statewide travel ban, but many still found it tough to get to work on their own.
The monster storm in Boston has brought with it another monster â a yeti. The white, furry phantom has been getting laughs by walking through the blizzard in a sasquatch suit. One was spotted in downtown Copley Square. Another was sighted trying to hail a cab in suburban Somerville.
Lavoie reported from Whitman. Associated Press writers Mark Pratt and William J. Kole in Boston contributed to this report.Associated Press