Big Cleanup Underway After Record-Setting Snowfall

Some areas saw as much as 30 inches of snow, with the South Shore and Cape Cod requiring the most cleanup

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The sun shone down on much of the East Coast on Sunday, a day after a vicious nor'easter brought blizzard conditions to many areas, and left more than 100,000 customers without power for a stretch that could last into Monday.

Winds that had gusted to more than 80 mph on Saturday died down on Sunday, and temperatures climbed into the upper teens and 20s as people emerged from their homes to dig out.

The storm dumped snow from Virginia to Maine, but Massachusetts bore the brunt of the fury, with the neighboring towns of Sharon and Stoughton getting more than 30 inches of snow before the storm moved out.

“That’s not something we want to win, we could put up with a few less inches, but we’ve got it so we’ve got to clean it,” Stoughton resident Horacio Pimentel said.

The National Weather Service reported that Stoughton received the most snow in Massachusetts.

Mass. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito gave an update Sunday morning from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Framingham, saying cleanup efforts were well underway, but cautioning this was a storm that would require several days to clear out.

The South Shore and Cape Cod will require the most extensive cleanup.

“Today if you need to go out, make plans but be patient. Not all roads are cleared exactly the way they would be in normal conditions," Polito said.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu also held a press conference Sunday to discuss the city's ongoing cleanup. She said city schools will be open Monday while those cleanup efforts continue.

More than 23 inches of snow fell in the city during the weekend blizzard.

With frigid cold in the forecast Sunday, icy conditions will be a concern and many roads are still not completely cleared.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation reported some progress Sunday even as they worked to continue to re-open the state's roads. Quincy Shore Drive which had been closed due to flooding had been re-opened to traffic but remained closed to parking. I-90 remained speed-restricted between Southborough, N.Y. and Framingham.

“MassDOT still has a lot of equipment on the road and we will have crews out throughout the day cleaning up. They will be out pushing back snowbanks, widening ramps, clearing drainage and removing snow," MassDOT Secretary Jamey L. Tesler said Sunday.

The MBTA is up and running, Tesler said, though there are some service changes. There is bus service on the Green Line D branch between Riverside and Kenmore due to snow cleanup, and bus service on the Blue Line between Orient Heights and Government Center as electricians make repairs at the Maverick station. Mattapan line service is also suspended, replaced with shuttle buses.

Riders should dress warmly and prepare for the possibility of delays.

More than 100,000 lost power at the height of the storm, mostly in Massachusetts. The outages in Massachusetts had dropped to about 40,000 by Sunday afternoon, mostly on hard hit Cape Cod. No other states reported widespread outages.

The South Shore was hit hard by the blizzard, and Marshfield was not spared, getting hit with heavy snow, fierce winds and flooding.

Eversource reported Sunday morning that they had restored power to around 50,000 customers since 6 p.m. Saturday night. Additional crews from the company's Connecticut and New Hampshire branches were expected to arrive Sunday morning to aid in the efforts.

"It was unbelievable —I haven't slept yet and we're working on hour 36… taking emergency phone calls," a utility worker in Marshfield said.

Eversource said they were looking at around 850 customers (about 6.5% of customers there) still without power in Marshfield. Provincetown finally got power back at 10:12 p.m. Saturday night, after 15 hours.

Utility Eversource said Sunday it had 1,700 crews working to restore electricity in Massachusetts, and customers will have their power back on "by the end of the day Monday, with most before then."

"We know how challenging it is for our customers to be without power, especially in this frigid weather,'' Eversource Vice President for Electric Operations Bill Ritchie said in a statement.

Residents were digging out from the blizzard in Winthrop on Sunday morning.

Warren, Rhode Island got more than 2 feet, and Norwich, Connecticut finished with 22 inches. Some areas of Maine and New Hampshire also received more than a foot.

Winds gusted as high as 83 mph on Cape Cod. It scoured the ground bare in some spots and piled the snow into huge drifts in others.

Coastal towns flooded, with wind and waves battering North Weymouth, south of Boston, flooding streets with a slurry of frigid water, according to video posted on social media. Other videos showed a street underwater on Nantucket and waves crashing against the windows of a building in Plymouth.

A Rhode Island couple got married as planned Saturday during the blizzard. Sally Faulkner and Adam Irujo had been planning a wedding for 14 months, so they went through with the nuptials on the steps of the Providence Public Library in front of a few family and friends.

Adam and Sally Irujo refused to let the snow stop them from getting married on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. The couple had been planning for 14 months, and the date was important. When they received news of a potentially historic blizzard hitting the region, they said "snow" problem. Snow was falling as they exchanged vows outside the Providence Public Library.

Forecasters watched closely for new snowfall records, especially in Boston. The Boston area's modern snowfall record for a winter storm is 27.6 inches, set in 2003. The city tied its record for biggest single-day snowfall on Saturday, with 23.6 inches, the National Weather Service said.

Like most major winter storms in New England, it drew comparisons to the infamous Blizzard of '78, which paralyzed the region for days.

"I was around for the Blizzard of '78, and this one was worse. The wind was tremendous,'' Joe Brescia, 72, said Sunday, tears streaming down his face from the bitter cold as he shoveled his sidewalk in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Bao Ha, 26, didn't think it was that bad until he went outside to shovel Sunday morning.

"It's funny, it didn't look so bad when I looked out the window this morning,'' he said as he shoveled the sidewalk in front of his home in Waltham outside Boston, which according to the National Weather Service, got 16 inches of snow. "But it's light, so it's easy to shovel.''

The entire Boston region faces cold weather, high winds and continued power outages in the wake of Saturday's storms.

Climate change, particularly the warming ocean, probably influenced the strength of the storm, atmospheric researchers said.

Much warmer ocean waters "are certainly playing a role in the strengthening of the storm system and increased moisture available for the storm,'' said University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Jason Furtado. "But it isn't the only thing.''

The storm had two saving graces: Dry snow less capable of snapping trees and tearing down power lines, and its timing on a weekend, when schools were closed and few people were commuting.

Parts of 10 states were under blizzard warnings at some point: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, along with much of the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

The National Weather Service considers a storm a blizzard if it has snowfall or blowing snow, as well as winds of at least 35 mph that reduce visibility to a quarter-mile or less for at least three hours. In many areas, Saturday's storm met those criteria.

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