Vignettes from a snow-blanketed state

The storm persists, power does not on Cape

SANDWICH — As afternoon turned into evening, wintry conditions continued in this upper Cape Cod vacation town, where snow fell at a near-constant pace throughout the day and the power showed no signs of returning.

“I can’t believe it; it just doesn’t stop,” said Robert Stavrakas, 85, as he peered out the door of the Dan’l Webster Inn on Main Street, just after 4 p.m. A flurry of flakes and a fierce wind followed him inside.

Stavrakas, a Sandwich resident, had come to the inn in anticipation of a power outage. He knew the hotel, unlike his home, would have generators to provide at least some comfort.


“You know the Cape: Two or three snowflakes and the lights go out,” he said. “I didn’t want my children to come and find me all frozen.”

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But he was disappointed to find that the weather showed no signs of letting up on the upper Cape, unlike the rest of the state.

“I have to be honest; this is one of the most frustrating experiences of my life,” Stavrakas said. “It’s like we’re trapped in here.”

In other parts of the town, conditions were even worse. Icy streets led to Town Neck Road, a seaside thoroughfare where the wind continued to whip in near white-out conditions well into the afternoon, making the crashing waves nearly indistinguishable. A swath of Route 130 was blocked by a large fallen tree.

River Street was swamped with icy water from the creek it travels over; the floodwater reached several vacation homes.

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
After the worst of the storm, city dwellers converged on a traffic-free Charles Street in Boston.

One of those homes has long belonged to the family of Tony Pola, 49, who ventured out in snowshoes to investigate the damage, trudging on top of snow banks to keep his feet from splashing into the freezing cold water.

Few times in his life had he seen the water reach its current level, he said. “This high? Maybe once a decade.”


Snowfall at Tufts yields youthful delight

SOMERVILLE — At Tufts University, nearly 100 students showed up at the President’s Lawn, a steep hill on campus, toting improvised sleds made of cardboard, garbage can lids, and plastic storage boxes.

Perhaps the most creative sled belonged to 21-year-old Tufts senior Lizz Grainger, who brought a whiteboard.


“If there was anything important written on it, it’s not important anymore,” Grainger said with a laugh. “My roommate takes biology notes on it, so hopefully she doesn’t mind.”

Local families joined the crowd on the hill, where students were packing down paths and building jumps.

“It’s awesome; there’s such a communal feeling,” said Tufts freshman Nick Ryder, 19.

Ryder is a member of the university’s Quidditch team, which decided to practice despite the accumulated snow and bitter wind.

“We had originally canceled our practice,” he said, “but everyone got on Facebook and said, ‘No way, let’s get out there and play some snow Quidditch.’ ”

The Tufts ski team, which had their Saturday race in Maine canceled, also made the most of conditions. Decked out in snowpants and goggles, they whooped and cheered as they made slow runs through an impromptu race course, with sticks in the snow serving as gates.

“Skiing on the Tufts hill is definitely number one on my bucket list,” said Tufts senior and ski team member Sam Ross, 21.


Ski areas got new powder, but little traffic

Massachusetts ski areas, often overlooked by skiers and riders who usually head north to the mountains of Vermont, New ­Hampshire, and Maine, benefited from the Blizzard of 2013, with nearly 3 feet of snow falling at several of the state’s small resorts.

Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford reported 30 inches, and Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton got 32.

But many skiers eager for fresh tracks were sidelined by another obstacle, the driving ban meant they could not get to the slopes.

Wachusett customer service representative Courtney Bennett said the mountain saw only a standard amount of traffic Saturday. The resort, she said, expected a surge on Sunday, as skiers look for powder.


Sea and wind threw them a mean punch

SALISBURY — Jackie Guilmette was stepping out of the shower just after 8:30 a.m. Saturday, when a fierce ocean wave rolled into her cedar-shingled home on Salisbury Beach.

“I just heard an ungodly crash,” said Guilmette, 48, speaking calmly early Saturday afternoon. “It was almost like a bomb went off.”

She ran downstairs to find her husband, Glenn, 50, standing in 3 feet of salt water, bleeding. The front door was blown off, the picture window shattered, and sand and glass covered everything. Baxter, the couple’s sandy-haired miniature Daschund, was under water in the kitchen.

Jackie dialed 911.

“I told them: ‘Our house was just destroyed. You have to come and get us,’ ” she said.

The phone call helped trigger a mandatory evacuation notice to 1,000 household along Salisbury Beach.

“We can’t force people to leave,” said Detective Steve Sforza of the Salisbury police, who responded to the 911 call. “But we’re telling them to leave for safety reasons.”

Despite the evacuation order, the Guilmettes chose to stay with Jackie’s mother, who also lives in a home on the beach. “Her home is very well protected by a dune she built 10 years ago,” said Jackie.

The Guilmettes ate homemade chicken soup for lunch, then ­returned to their home to board it up. Still, they feel fortunate to live by the beautiful, if often furious, sea.

“You rebuild and you move on,” said Jackie. “That’s life at the beach.”


City’s plow tracker proves too popular

On Friday, with the blizzard bearing down, the city of Boston unveiled a website that allowed curious citizens to track the locations of snowplows all over the city.

But the site was taken down hours later, following a heavy wave of Web traffic that interfered with the city’s public works monitoring system, a spokeswoman for the mayor said Saturday.

The site had soft runs during prior snow events this season, but Friday was the first time the city promoted the site through social media, said Emilee Ellison, spokeswoman for the office of Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

“It got a ton of traffic and was working for a time,” Ellison said.

But only a short time. By Saturday night, the site was still down, and the city was working to revive it.

The city hopes that when it works the kinks out, the technology can help improve government efficiency.