BOSTON (AP) — A blizzard pounded Massachusetts with heavy snow and hurricane-force winds Tuesday, but state officials reported fewer power outages than expected from the winter storm and no catastrophic flooding along the coastline.
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Two feet of snow or more was expected in most of Massachusetts by the end of the storm. According to the National Weather Services, unofficial snowfall totals included 30 inches in Framingham, 26 inches in Worcester, 21 inches in Plymouth and 20.8 inches at Logan International Airport in Boston, which remained closed to air travel.
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 76 mph gust on Nantucket, 75 mph gust in Chatham and 74 mph on Martha’s Vineyard.
Gov. Charlie Baker lifted a travel ban in the four westernmost counties but excluded the Massachusetts Turnpike at noon Tuesday. The ban on nonessential motor vehicle travel remained in effect in the rest of the state until midnight. Service also remained suspended on the MBTA and Amtrak. State Police Col. Timothy Alben said a handful of citations had been issued to people for violating the travel ban, including the driver of a tractor-trailer that jackknifed in the Springfield area.
National Grid was reporting more than 13,700 customers without power as of noon Tuesday, but the vast majority was on the hard-hit island of Nantucket. NStar had about 21,000 outages, mostly on Cape Cod and the South Shore. The outages were well below the hundreds of thousands that state officials had initially feared. Shelters opened across Massachusetts, but Baker said fewer than 200 people spent the night in them.
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 from a powerful storm surge had been a major concern of state officials, but Massachusetts’ emergency management director Kurt Schwarz said the 4:30 a.m. high tide passed without any “catastrophic, life-threatening situations.” He said state and local officials assisted in some voluntary evacuations, but they were not considered rescues.
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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.”
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.
Baker arrived for a televised early afternoon briefing at the state’s emergency management headquarters in Framingham clad in a sweater instead of a suit and tie. Asked about his wardrobe choice, Baker said: “Today is a snow day.” Baker’s predecessor, former Gov. Deval Patrick, was known to wear a Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency vest at briefings during major storms in his tenure.
The monster storm in Boston has brought with it another monster — 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.
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