Arctic air dominates Greater Boston after storm

A winter storm warning will remain in effect for greater Boston until 1 p.m. today.
Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff
A winter storm warning will remain in effect for greater Boston until 1 p.m. today.

HANOVER -- Parts of the South Shore were walloped by a storm that rolled into Massachusetts on Tuesday night and hung around until Wednesday afternoon, with nearly two feet of snow blanketing a pair of towns, while the city of Boston received significantly less.

Norwell, which had 18.3 inches overnight, had the highest recorded snowfall in the state, closely followed by Hanover with 18 inches, and Duxbury and Weymouth with 17 inches each, the weather service said.

Tallies for much of the rest of the Commonwealth, including Boston, however, hovered in the single digits, according to figures provided by the National Weather Service in Taunton.


William Babcock, a weather service meteorologist, explained the snowfall patterns in a phone interview on Wednesday evening, after the final soft flakes had dropped on a state where dozens of school districts had closed and many public buildings were also shuttered for the day.

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“The center of the storm was actually well out offshore, well off of Nantucket,” Babcock said, making it “a bit further south than the ideal track for the storm covering all of southern New England.”

Babcock said winds off the south coast lingered over the water before moving onto land, allowing for the moisture necessary for a larger burst of snow there.

“The arctic air that we had in place farther north and west ... was actually so dry that it was eating up some of that moisture that was being fed in,” Babcock said. “So that any snow that tried to fall, a lot of it evaporated on the way down.”

On Wednesday afternoon in the center of town in Hanover, snowdrifts piled on sidewalks but the roads were generally clear, with traffic moving at a normal, pre-rush hour clip.


Michelle Locke, 49, was shoveling part of her large driveway on Main Street as two of her seven horses stood near a barn. Locke said the severe weather compelled her to regularly defrost the horses’ water buckets.

“The water is a constant source of frustration when it’s this cold,” Locke said.

In addition, feeding them became difficult as the snow piled up. Locke said the person who plows her driveway had not yet arrived when she trekked over to the barn for the 6 a.m. feeding.

“It was not pretty,” Locke said. “I was at least up to my knees. ... I can see why people move south, but are you going to do? I’m not going to be a wimp.”

Additional communities that hit double digits in snowfall included Bourne, Falmouth, Fall River, New Bedford, Stoughton, Cohasset, Randolph, Foxborough, Holbrook, Plymouth, Brockton, Bridgewater, Kingston, Middleborough, Hanson, and Halifax.


But at Logan International Airport in Boston, only 4.2 inches of snow was recorded.

At the height of the storm, there were 550 pieces of snow-fighting equipment on Boston streets, and the city used a quarter of its road salt supply. By 7 a.m. Wednesday, the number of plows and salt spreaders operating had dropped to 300, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said.

The state Department of Transportation had reported on Tuesday night that more than 2,000 crews were busy clearing state roads for the morning commute.

There were no major incidents or crimes overnight in Boston, Walsh added. Boston Emergency Medical Services responded to one call for hypothermia, and there were reports of five fires and seven or eight carbon monoxide scares.

Municipal leaders in Boston, and north and west of the city, also ended snow emergencies Wednesday morning, and the Massachusetts Turnpike resumed normal speed limits after several hours where speed was reduced to 40 miles per hour.

The MBTA reported problems linked not to the snowfall, but to the single-digit temperatures in the region. Among the issues, said state Transportation Secretary Richard Davey, was that only three of the 10 trolley cars used on the Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line functioned on Wednesday morning, forcing the use of buses.

“The arctic conditions make it difficult to keep every bus, subway, and train operating on its regular schedule,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo added on Wednesday. He urged commuters to check the MBTA’s website for service updates.

Logan was open on Wednesday, but the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs the airport, reported a number of delays and cancellations on its website.

Across the Bay State, the snow was followed by frigid temperatures.

Highs across much of the state will remain in the teens or between 10 and 12 degrees on Thursday, with the exception of the Cape, where some areas will spike to the 20s, according to weather service figures.

However, temperatures are expected to plummet below zero by Thursday night in parts of Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, Middlesex, and Worcester counties. Boston will dip to around 5 degrees.

In Plymouth on Wednesday afternoon, most Main Street businesses had opened their doors despite the nearly 16 inches of snow that had battered the town.

“It’s better than the last storm,” said Kevin Radke, a manager at T-Bones Road House who was shoveling the sidewalk without a coat, hat, or gloves. “It’s [the snow is] lighter, and the wind takes care of it.”

Jenna Russell of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Andrew Ryan can be reached John R. Ellement can be reached at