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New England and Boston bears brunt of US blizzard

New England and Boston bears brunt of US blizzard
The storm that struck Boston and surrounding New England on Tuesday left about 4.5 million people grappling with as much as three feet of snow and coastal flooding.

Snow was forecast to keep falling into early Wednesday in eastern New England, possibly setting a record snowfall in Boston. At Logan International Airport, 59.2 centimeters (23.3 inches) of snow was on the ground early evening, swept higher in parts by strong winds.

“There are drifts now of four, five and six feet in some places,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said. “This is clearly a very big storm for most of Massachusetts.”

Some signs of normalcy emerged Wednesday: Flights were to resume at dawn at Logan International Airport, among the nation’s busiest air hubs, and Boston’s public transit and Amtrak trains to New York and Washington were set to roll again, although delays were predicted. While a statewide travel ban was lifted at midnight, Massachusetts residents were urged to stay off the roads if possible as clean up began.

Bitter cold threatened to complicate efforts to clear clogged streets and restore power to more than 15,000 customers, including the entire island of Nantucket. Crews working to restore electricity were at times getting stuck on roads throughout the day, Nantucket Island Police Chief William Pittman said.

Lacking electricity and heat at home, more than 100 people flocked to a shelter at a high school and others simply warmed themselves in their running cars, Pittman said.

“We are going to have another tough night ahead of us,” Pittman said, citing fresh snowfall and blustery conditions as well as downed trees and power lines, and icy water over roadways. “After midnight, things are going to start improving.” Among the damage brought by the storm: high tides breached a seawall in Marshfield, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Boston, damaging 11 homes, several of which were condemned, police said. Police urged residents to evacuate.

Further south, Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey had been warned they could get 1 to 2 feet of snow, but they escaped the worst of the storm. New York City received just under 10 inches and Philadelphia a mere inch or so. New Jersey got up to 10 inches.

National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini said his agency should have done a better job of communicating the uncertainty in its forecast. But he also said the storm may in fact prove to be one of the biggest ever in some parts of Massachusetts.

National Weather Service forecaster Gary Szatkowski of Mount Holly, New Jersey, tweeted an apology: “You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie defended his statewide ban on travel as “absolutely the right decision to make,” given the dire forecast.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will look at whether storm procedures that could be improved.


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