Updated 10/30 at 9 a.m.
BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The season’s first snow came early and came with fury. Just after dawn on Sunday, Massachusetts state officials were reporting more than 650,000 power outages across the state.
Among the largest power companies, National Grid had about 354,000 customers without power; WMECO had about 130,000; NSTAR 111,000; and Unitil 22,000.
State police reported numerous accidents on icy roads, though the speed limit was back to normal Sunday morning after being lowered to 40 mph Saturday. Logan Airport, which did not get as much snow as the rest of the state, handled a number of flights diverted from other East Coast cities.
The snow arrived in Massachusetts Saturday afternoon, and piled more than 20 inches in parts of western Massachusetts. Areas in metro Boston received anywhere from several inches to more than a foot of heavy, wet snow.
Governor Deval Patrick declared a State of Emergency as conditions worsened Saturday evening.
At least one death was blamed on the storm, a 20-year-old Springfield man electrocuted when he stepped on a downed wire. The man, who was not identified, stopped when he saw police and firefighters examining downed wires and stepped in the wrong place, police Capt. William Collins said.
The combination of high winds; the leaves still on trees; and heavy, wet snow were contributing to the widespread power outages. In many cases, as soon as power was restored, it was knocked back out by another tree or limb pulling down utility lines.
The WBZ-TV Weather team predicted power outages could approach the levels from the ice storm of 2008.
Utility companies had prepared for that possibility.
“The key issue is that there are still a substantial number of leaves on all the trees locally. Leaves fall off in the winter for a reason, and the extra surface area will allow even more snow to stick to limbs,” Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara said. “All of that extra weight has the potential to cause healthy, normally non-threatening trees to fail, leading to additional outages.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports
Boston Mayor Tom Menino said Saturday that 200 city plows were set to deal with the snow and the city was ready for whatever Mother Nature may bring.
“There’s a prediction that the winds are up to 60 miles an hour,” said Menino. “We just want to make sure as we go through this evening that our public works trucks are ready to go. Our parks department, police and fire, we’re ready to move.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports
The mayor has urged Occupy Boston protesters in Dewey Square to go home during the storm because their tents could be dangerous in the expected high winds.
Logan Airport was also ready for the storm, doing all it can to prevent as many delays and cancellations as possible. One of their posts on Twitter says they had added crews to deal with the snow.
The airport is encouraging travelers to check with their airline for flight updates.
The weather’s expected to turn more seasonable next week, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s.
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