Crashes, Power Outages Reported as Snow Moves North, Flash Freeze Settles In

At least 25,000 customers are without power in Connecticut

Temperatures are plummeting across the region as the region deals with the aftermath from the year's first winter storm, including reports of icy road conditions, power outages and minor flooding along coastal areas.

Just after 10 a.m., the National Weather Service issued a warning that temperatures were now falling faster than previously forecast.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation tweeted that it has a total of 2,332 pieces of equipment deployed in snow and ice operations as of 5 p.m. Sunday. It warned that flash freezing would occur Sunday night as air temperatures near zero, and with the wind factor dip below zero.

The flash freeze comes after an overnight storm led to numerous car accidents and power outages throughout Southern New England. Snow was continuing in northern regions through much of this afternoon. 

Arctic air is now sweeping into the area, leading to reports of flash-freeze conditions, which could lead to more power outages. Frigid temperatures will fully engulf the area this afternoon and overnight, turning untreated roadways into ice rinks. 

"It was horrible. They didn't even salt these at all," one person said of the roads in Worcester, Massachusetts.

By noon on Sunday, around 200 cars were towed due to the parking ban. It was a close call for one man on Portland Street.

"I just so happen to wake up. And I saw people pull their cars, so I didn't want to get stuck. And you didn't want to get towed. No, I didn't want to get towed," the Worcester resident said.

"They got me, man. They really did. I woke up this morning sad, almost cried."

But even in the middle of the sloppy day in Worcester, the city's charm shined through.

"I helped her push her up there to park in a safe spot," one resident said.

For some, the cleanup hasn't even started, and with the deep freeze the side streets of Worcester could turn into ski slopes.

Brockton Fire tweeted just before 3 p.m. Sunday that they are responding to Columbia Gas on Oak Hill Way where a snow plow hit a pipe causing a gas leak. They say train service in both directions has been shut down and crews are monitoring the area.

A sleet storm continued across Central and Northern Massachusetts and the 10 a.m. high tide cycle was impacting locations like Scituate Harbor. Massachusetts State Police closed Morrissey Boulevard in Boston due to tidal flooding. The Exit 14 off-ram from Interstate 93 northbound was also closed but reopened shortly after noontime. In Brockton, Department of Public Works crews responded to street flooding the area of North Montello and Howard streets - advising driver to avoid the area.

As of 11:30 a.m., the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) reported 530 Massachusetts electric customers without electricity. Other New England states had fewer than 100 customers each without power, except for harder-hit Connecticut, which reported at least 25,000 customers without electricity.

Across the region, police and firefighters responded to numerous fender benders and car crashes overnight.

In Bourne, Massachusetts, two people inside a car went airborne into a tree after they lost control on Sandwich Road. Police and firefighters in Millbury, Massachusetts, had to remove a truck from an icy Dorothy Pond. The driver got out of the vehicle on their own, but there was no word on extent of injuries. In Revere, another vehicle plunged into a marsh and the driver, who had climbed onto the roof, needed to be rescued. In Topsfield, Massachusetts, a truck lost control and struck a house while, in an unrelated accident in lawrence, a tractor-trailer truck rolled over on Route 495.

In Leominster, roads were shut down around 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Main Street and High Street as a large city salt and plow truck rolled over. There were no injuries as a result of that accident, according to police.

Numerous more fender benders and spinouts have been reported across area highways. Officials say the timing of the storm - overnight and on a weekend - most likely reduced the number of accidents than if the storm arrived on a weekday.

It was unclear whether any of the drivers or occupants received serious injuries.

Snowfall totals ranged throughout Massachusetts overnight. Billerica and Weymouth recorded about 5 inches of snow and Lexington had slightly more snow - about 6 inches overnight. Higher totals were reported in Topsfield, which  had 7 inches of snow, and Shelburne had 9 inches. 

While the snow eased in Southern New England, road crews played catchup. Massachusetts Department of Transportation recommended drivers stay off the road as crews continue to treat and clear state roadways. The department said they had 2,874 crews overnight to clear roadways.

In New Hampshire, roadways remained slick while the snow continued. At about 8 a.m., traffic on Route 93 was moving but still snow covered as many skiers haded to resorts. Road conditions were expected to deteriorate later today as the mercury plunges.

Other modes of transportation were also affected by the storm. Amtrak cancelled 11 routes between New York and Boston and two routes were cancelled in Vermont. The Downeaster train remained in operation but Amtrak was advising travelers to check for delays and cancellations. Keolis, which operates the MBTA commuter rails, subways, and buses, said crews were workign to clear snow from facilities and passenger areas. Some delays on MBTA bus routes were reported this morning.

Cancellations were reported at airports throughout the region as well.

The major winter storm that struck the Greater Boston and New England area blanketed much of the country. The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings or advisories for part or all of at least 15 states stretching from southeast Missouri to the northern tip of Maine.

The storm was caused by the clash of an Arctic high pressure system with a low pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley, said NWS Baltimore-Washington, D.C. meteorologist Dan Hofmann.

"It happens that this one is going through a relatively high population area," Hofmann said.

Earlier, the system dumped up to 10 inches of snow on parts of the Midwest Saturday, with more on the way Sunday from lake-effect snow off the Great Lakes.

A 15-vehicle crash on slippery roads blocked a section of Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri near Ste. Genevieve Saturday afternoon and drivers were urged to find an alternative route. Amtrak canceled some trains Saturday from Chicago to Washington and New York and between New York and Boston and Pennsylvania on Sunday.

FlightAware said late Saturday that airlines had cancelled 250 flights that were supposed to leave Sunday from Boston's Logan International Airport. Dozens of Sunday flights were also cancelled from New York's John F. Kennedy International, Reagan National in Washington and Newark Liberty International in New Jersey.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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