Metro

More snow, intense cold compound the misery

Another storm could hit region tomorrow

Boston braced Sunday night for a life-threatening deep freeze after a blizzard bombarded parts of the region with nearly 2 feet of snow and gale-force winds.

The sixth winter storm in three weeks made February Boston’s snowiest month on record, with 58.5 inches, besting by more than 15 inches the previous record set in January 2005.

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Temperatures were forecast to plunge below zero overnight Sunday, with wind chills as low as 20 to 30 degrees below zero, and to remain well below normal all week, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters warned that another storm could hit the area beginning Tuesday evening.

“Right now it looks like it’s a light storm, but any snow on top of what we already have is just crazy,” Eleanor Vallier-Talbot of the weather service said.

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The MBTA said it planned to resume limited service Monday. Rapid transit lines were set to operate on a Saturday schedule and largely underground only; limited shuttle service will replace aboveground trains on most routes.

The MBTA warned that delays and cancellations are possible because of icy conditions and traffic.

Sunday’s blizzard shut down the region once again, costing state and city governments additional millions of dollars in cleanup costs and depriving the local economy of millions more in lost holiday weekend revenue, as weather-weary residents learned with dread that another possible storm looms midweek, and yet another next weekend.

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For some residents who took to the roads, by car and on foot, there were disastrous results. Massachusetts State Police reported a pileup of more than 20 cars on Interstate 95 South just before 3:30 p.m. In Marlborough, a woman in her 20s suffered minor injuries when she was struck by a snowplow as she stood in a parking lot, local police said.

Roof and building collapses were reported to police and fire departments in Foxborough, Rockland, Quincy, Canton, Lynn, Newburyport, Hingham, and Stoughton, according to National Weather Service’s damage logs.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at a news conference Sunday that he shares Boston residents’ frustrations with the onslaught of winter weather and the inconveniences it has brought.

“This is historic,” he said. “We’ve never seen this type of snow in this type of period in the history of this city.”

Walsh said the storms have made a significant economic impact, with businesses closed and workers unable to get to their jobs.

“A lot of lower-wage earners are losing more than anyone else here,” he said.

Daily snowfall in Boston

On March 15, this year's snowfall broke the record-setting total from 1995-1996.
Data through Mar. 23, 2015 at 11 a.m.

DATA: National Weather Service, Boston; NOAA

Globe Staff

The city of Boston had already spent roughly $33 million on snow removal, he estimated, with another $7 million possible for clearing out after this storm.

The mayor said Boston’s snow emergency and parking ban will remain in effect until further notice. Police had tagged 395 vehicles and towed 226 by Sunday morning, he said.

Around the state, slick roadways made for dangerous travel, State Police Lieutenant Daniel Richard said.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation had 3,366 crews out clearing state roadways Sunday, the department said on Twitter.

They will have little time to rest. A minor storm forecast for Tuesday may bring plowable snow to the region south of the Massachusetts Turnpike, with the greatest accumulation along the south coast and in Rhode Island, but no snowfall estimates are yet available, National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Doody said Sunday night.

Next weekend, a storm could bring snow or rain beginning late Saturday afternoon or Saturday night, Doody said.

Boston was barely recognizable Sunday morning as a bustling city of nearly 650,000, as its streets sat eerily deserted and some buildings, plastered with snow, were barely recognizable. Most cars sat idle, forming unrecognizable white lumps lining side streets, some still covered by snow from earlier storms.

Here and there, a solitary figure in a black overcoat or brightly colored parka contrasted sharply with the blinding white.

At Fiore’s Bakery in Jamaica Plain, Rob Halpin said he needed to get out Sunday morning because he was feeling stir-crazy, and only 5 inches of daylight made it through his nearly snow-covered windows.

“I love winter — to a degree — but there comes a point where you are so outside the bell curve, and it’s no longer winter but living on the planet Hoth,” Halpin said, referring to the ice planet in the film “The Empire Strikes Back.”

A large portion of the state saw more than a foot of snow, mostly in Essex, Bristol, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Middlesex counties.

Boston accumulated 16.2 inches on Saturday and Sunday. Overall, this winter is Boston’s third snowiest on record, at 95.7 inches, less than a foot away from setting a new all-time high.

Essex County was hit hardest, with Ipswich reporting 22 inches of fresh accumulation, while Salisbury topped out at 20.5 inches.

Flights in or out of Logan International Airport were canceled for much of Sunday but began again in the late afternoon, said Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Some airlines chose to wait until Monday morning to resume service. Normal schedules should return as the weather calms and airlines bring equipment and flight crews back into place, Brelis said.

“People should check with their airlines on flight status before heading to the airport,” Brelis said.

Brelis said it was unfortunate the blizzard arrived at the beginning of the February school vacation, but “about 110,000 people did get out on Friday, which is the single biggest travel day of the school vacation week.”

Seaside communities saw moderate coastal flooding Sunday, including surges of 2 to 3 feet, Sipprell said.

In Marshfield, flooding caused a shutdown of some streets in the center of the esplanade for under an hour, police Officer Michael Gonsalves said.

Some communities experienced power outages, but by Sunday evening fewer than a dozen National Grid customers remained without power, according to an outage map, while there were about 350 outages among customers of Eversource, formerly known as NStar.

Firefighters reported an increase in carbon monoxide incidents, Walsh said, urging Bostonians to ensure that vents are clear and to use the holiday Monday to clear out around their homes.

Homeless shelters were at overflow capacity but still able to accept additional guests, the mayor said, and they will allow people to remain inside all day while temperatures remain bitterly cold.

Employees at the Pine Street Inn, a South End shelter, are working with Boston police and EMS to make sure the city’s homeless population is safe, spokeswoman Barbara Trevisan said.

Trevisan said the shelter, which has 650 beds, has 100 additional guests sleeping on cots in its dining rooms and other free spaces.

“We’re concerned about people on the street,” Trevisan said. “They can’t stay outside. It is a life-or-death situation.”

Looking forward to another potential storm, “we will be ready for whatever Mother Nature brings us,” said Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, at a news conference. “We’re just going to keep on doing what we’ve been doing since Jan. 25, until we dig down and we can see green grass somewhere.”

In Jamaica Plain, taxi driver Johnny Cummings said he debated Sunday morning whether even he was crazy enough to get behind the wheel. Cummings decided to head out, he said, because he thought he could help people. His outlook was pragmatic.

“Just in case you think it’s going to get better, forget about it,” Cummings said.

Carolyn Y. Johnson of the Globe staff and correspondents Jacqueline Tempera and Kiera Blessing contributed to this report. Jennifer Smith can be reached at jennifer.smith@globe.com. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
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