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Eastern Parts Of MA And CT Hit Hardest By Storm, Affects Entire Region

National Weather Service

Many parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut are breaking out of a standstill after a highly-touted winter storm blanketed the region. But, the blast wasn’t as powerful as most anticipated.The plows were out Tuesday morning in Pittsfield, Massachusetts clearing a few inches of light snow from roads and parking lots. Although public schools and colleges, businesses and municipal offices closed Tuesday in advance of the storm’s Monday night arrival, the western part of the state was largely spared. Still under a state of emergency, Governor Charlie Baker expects the commonwealth will see less than the 2-3 feet forecast statewide.

“I think in the end we are going to end up with somewhere between 18 and 20 inches in many places around the state,” Baker said Tuesday morning. “I think western Mass you’re probably talking more like 6 to 12. There will be parts in Worcester, Middlesex and Bristol counties where we’ll probably see over 2 feet and something that gets a little closer to 30 inches.”

Baker says for the most part people have cooperated with a statewide travel ban put in place at midnight.

“The folks at DOT and state police have reported that there are people getting out of their vehicles on interstates to clean off their windshields,” Baker said. “Not a good idea. I think we’d prefer people if you need to clean off your windshield to get off the road before you do that. Passing plows – that’s a relatively dangerous activity. We would ask people to simply be patient.”

Eastern Massachusetts has been hardest hit so far, with winds gusting up to 70 miles per hour and flooding in coastal communities due to high tide. Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency director Kurt Schwartz says there have been limited non-emergency evacuations in Marshfield, Scituate and Hull to help people who didn’t heed warnings to leave.

“People that have left should not be going back,” Schwartz said. “We’ve got to get through that 4:30 p.m. high tide. So we ask people to be diligent, prudent and exercise common sense. Stay out of those areas that flooded this morning. They are going to flood again this afternoon.”

More than 50 workers from Western Massachusetts Electric Company are heading east to help NSTAR crews restore power to a couple thousand customers. Several thousands of National Grid customers are without power near Massachusetts’ coast and Nantucket. Meanwhile, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has lifted a travel ban on local roads in Fairfield and Litchfield counties.

“I think we can be up and running tomorrow on a normal basis,” Malloy said. “Perhaps by our third shift here in state government be able to get back to a normal schedule. I think because people have been so cooperative with the travel ban – under normal circumstances we would have expected hundreds of accidents on our highway systems last night. We had 11.”

Only one minor injury was reported in those accidents. A travel ban remains elsewhere in Connecticut and on state highways. Malloy says crews will clear the state highways and then travel to the harder hit eastern Connecticut, which has about 2 feet of snow and was expecting more. Malloy says the most significant power outage in Connecticut came after a plow hit a utility pole. As of Tuesday morning, the governor says power to most of those 570 customers has been restored.

Metro North Railroad says its New Haven line will operate on a Sunday schedule starting at 1, with regular service returning Wednesday. Amtrak service north of New York City is also expected to resume Wednesday. No commercial planes have left or flown into Bradley International since 7 p.m. Monday, as airliners cancelled thousands of flights. 

The U.S. Postal Service has suspended service Tuesday in Connecticut, southeastern and western Massachusetts, Long Island and Rhode Island. Regular operation is expected to resume Wednesday where it is safe to do so.

And despite the headaches the storm may cause, Barbara Schmick and her chocolate lab Titus were hoping for even more in Pittsfield.

“He loves the snow,” Schmick said. “He absolutely loves it. We go hiking all over the place and snowshoeing.”

Press conference audio courtesy of New England Cable News.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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