More than 500,000 Mass. residents still without power
A man was dwarfed by a giant that fell across Simmonds Road in Lexington. (Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)
By Christopher J. Girard, Globe Correspondent, and Martine Powers, Globe Staff
Some 621,000 utility customers are without power this evening in the wake of a major nor’easter that dumped up to 30 inches of heavy wet snow in parts of the state, forcing some of the hardest hit communities to declare a snow day in October and to postpone Halloween because of impassible streets.
Officials in Lexington, Foxborough, Tyngsboro, Auburn, and Leicester have called off Monday’s trick-or-treating. The Worcester Telegram and Gazette is reporting that Worcester is holding off, too. Some towns, such as Auburn, have already set a new date -- Nov. 4 -- for trick-or-treating, while Lexington and Foxborough are still mulling the next date, officials said tonight.
School closures are more widespread. An updated list of closings can be found here.
The storm played a role in three deaths, two in a car accident and one because of a power line downed by the storm, officials said.
One National Weather Service forecaster expressed astonishment at the magnitude of the storm, which hit the state unusually early, two days before children were expected to make their rounds for Halloween.
“Fifteen thousand years ago, in the Ice Age, I’m sure they had more snow,” said Bill Simpson. “But for the modern day, this is unbelievable.”
Governor Deval Patrick, who declared a state of emergency Saturday night, is planning to meet with state officials and utility representatives Monday morning at the emergency bunker in Framingham. Earlier today, the governor mobilized the National Guard, and about 700 Guard members would be posted throughout the state by the end of today.
Patrick said it would likely be days, not hours, before power is restored for most families. He explained that the situation was unlike the aftermath of Hurricane, when repairs on a few central power lines restored power to whole neighborhoods. He said this snowstorm’s problems were much more decentralized.
“This is a house-by-house, branch-by-branch kind of response,” Patrick said at a news conference in Agawam in Western Massachusetts, the portion of the state that saw the heaviest snows.
As of midnight, a total of 621,871 customers were without power, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency reported. MEMA said in a midnight tweet that National Grid was reporting 408,614 National Grid customers, and 127,767 Western Massachusetts Electric customers, and 15,379 Unitil customers in Massachusetts were without power. Also at midnight, NStar was reporting 70,111 customers without power.
“Due to the difficult driving conditions, downed trees, and severe damage experienced on our system, we’re anticipating our power restoration effort will last into the workweek,” NStar spokeswoman Caroline Allen said in a statement. NStar urged customers to report outages at nstar.com.
In Springfield, 20-year-old Jeffrey Mattarazzo of 117 Shady Brook Lane was electrocuted Saturday evening after leaving his vehicle in traffic on Parker Street and touching a wooden guardrail that was electrified by a downed wire, Springfield police said.
Asked why Mattarazzo left his vehicle and touched the guardrail, Springfield Police Capt. William Collins said by phone Sunday night, “I think he was just curious.”
Two people were also killed in a car crash in Falmouth about 12:15 a.m. after the vehicle hit a tree and a fence near 371 Jones Road, according to a statement from police.
Although “there may have been other factors,” inclement weather conditions contributed to the crash, Officer Jamie Livingston said. The victims’ names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
About 150 accidents were reported on state-administered roads overnight, which is more than usual but a normal amount for such a storm, Trooper Thomas Murphy, a State Police spokesman, said.
Fallen tree limbs and downed power lines were reported across the state overnight, according to reports collected by the National Weather Service.
Churches, private schools, and colleges around the state announced cancellations today.
Peter Pan bus lines canceled service after 6 p.m. Saturday but has resumed all routes, according to a statement released this morning.
The 19th Annual Komen Massachusetts Race for the Cure, which raises money for breast cancer research and was scheduled for today in Boston, was canceled due to weather-related safety concerns. “It’s really a disappointment,” said Ronni Cohen-Boyar, executive director of the group that organizes the race. “This will definitely impact our ability in terms of how we can help the residents of Massachusetts.”
The sun was shining in Boston and temperatures were rising above freezing by mid-morning. Highs were expected to reach the mid-30s to mid-40s.
Simpson, the weather service forecaster, said Jaffrey, N.H., led the region with a record 31.4 inches of snow. In hardest-hit Western Massachusetts, Plainfield reported 30.8 inches of snow, while Ashfield reported 25.5, and Tolland reported 25.
With 14.6 inches, Worcester far surpassed the previous record for the most snow ever recorded on an October day.
With high temperatures returning to the 50s this week, no more snow is in sight, Simpson said.
Governor Patrick was joined by other top state officials, including Transportation Secretary Richard Davey, and MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz, at the Public Works and Municipal Annex in the Western Massachusetts town of Agawam.
Davey said that at the height of the storm, about 2,000 pieces of equipment were on the roads to help clear major thoroughfares. He advised residents in snow-struck parts of the state to stay inside, keep their cars off the roads, and use public transportation if they need to travel.
“I ask customers, if you do not have to drive, please don’t,” Davey said.
During the height of the storm, at 10 p.m. Saturday, a Chicago-Boston train was stranded by a rockslide in the town of Palmer. The home stretch run into Boston turned into a nightmare. The passengers weren’t able to leave the train until 10:50 a.m. Sunday. Amtrak officials said they didn’t know if the rockslide was weather-related.
Amtrak crews were working today to clear numerous trees that fell on tracks and overhead wires at multiple locations, according to a statement released this morning.
Service was suspended until further notice between Boston and Providence; between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield; and between Harrisburg, Pa., and Philadelphia.
In Boston, Logan Airport got only about an inch of snow. The T ran smoothly throughout the morning, spokesman Joe Pesaturo wrote in an e-mail.
“MBTA crews did a great job early this morning, removing tree limbs that were leaning on overhead wires along the D branch of the Green Line,” Pesaturo wrote.
But the Haverhill, Fitchburg, and Worcester/Framingham commuter rail lines are likely to see storm-related delays during the morning rush hour Monday, according to an email from Scott Farmelant, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad.
Off the coast, where the storm generated howling winds and big waves, the Coast Guard had to rescue two Canadian sailors whose sailboat engine failed as they motored into Provincetown Harbor. The Coast Guard towed the boat in, scoring a rescue on the 20th anniversary of the 1991 “perfect storm.”
Martin Finucane of the Globe staff along with Globe correspondents Jenna Duncan and Evan M. Allen contributed to this report.