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Mass. residents dig out, crews clear roads after Saturday’s bomb cyclone

A crew cleared snow from the sidewalks in front of the Boston University's fitness and recreation center on Commonwealth Avenue on Sunday morning.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Battered by a Saturday blizzard that hammered Eastern Massachusetts, residents spent a sunny but frigid Sunday digging out from a storm that left tens of thousands without power, while crews cleared roads and transit lines ahead of Monday’s commute.

Across the region, utilities were working to restore electrical service for about 3,400 customers late Sunday night . But despite the storm’s ferocity — high winds, coastal flooding, whiteout conditions, and more than two feet of snow in some places — there appeared to be few other signs of widespread damage in the aftermath Sunday.

“The snowmageddon that was predicted had us all on edge, but in the end... we did pretty well,” said Gloucester Mayor Greg Verga.


Joe McGrath dug out after the powerful storm left 30 inches of snow in Quincy. Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

In Quincy, where 30 inches of snow fell, the city managed to avoid any “significant issues,” said Ally Sleiman, the city’s emergency management director.

“We were expecting the worst, but we were fortunate. As cold as it was with that much snow... it could’ve been a bad situation,” Sleiman said.

Leon Peshkin cross country skis along Vineyard Sound, off Surf Drive in Falmouth.Bill Greene/Globe Staff

On Cape Cod, which had most of the outages, the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee estimated power would be back on for 99 percent of residents by 11:59 p.m. Monday.

Barnstable County Superior and Probate Courts will be closed Monday due to power issues, the state’s trial court department said. Trial court events both in-person and remote were postponed.

For many other communities Sunday, the challenge was clearing the deep snow left by the storm. That included Quincy and Medford, where schools will be closed Monday, officials announced.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, for a time Sunday, had to replace some subway service with buses to allow workers time to clear the tracks.

In Boston, where schools will be open, Mayor Michelle Wu announced early Sunday afternoon that the city’s snow emergency and parking ban would end at 6 a.m. Monday. But she warned that it will take time to clear streets and called on the public to help shovel sidewalks and clear fire hydrants.


“We’re used to snow and storms up here in Boston, but this was the record-setting storm,” Wu told reporters at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

In Boston, 35 homeless people came to shelters operated by the Pine Street Inn Saturday night to get out of the storm, according to Barbara Trevisan, a shelter spokeswoman.

Kristie Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in Norton, said the storm is likely to be among the top 10 storms to hit Boston in terms of amount of snowfall.

“It was a perfect mix of cold air, enough liquid to precipitate, and really strong snow bands from a rapidly strengthening storm,” Smith said.

At Logan International Airport, the city matched a one-day record for snowfall set Feb. 17, 2003, with 23.6 inches falling over a 24-hour span. During the entire storm, which began late Friday night, a total of 23.8 inches fell at the airport, according to the weather service.

The powerful storm underwent bombogenesis and became a bomb cyclone Saturday, according to the service’s Weather Prediction Center, rapidly strengthening as its pressure fell by 35 millibars in about 18 hours.

The top snow totals in Massachusetts reached 30 or more inches during Saturday’s storm, including Stoughton, the winner with 30.9 inches, and Sharon, close behind with 30.4, followed by Quincy at an even 30.


More than a dozen other communities in Eastern Massachusetts reported two feet or more of snow, according to the weather service.

Eversource Sunday said it had restored power to more than 50,000 customers overnight Saturday. As of late Sunday afternoon, 27,000 customers were without power, according to the utility, which had about 1,700 crews deployed in the state Sunday. That number continued to fall Sunday night, with the utility reporting 3,276 customers without power as of about 11 p.m.

Christopher McKinnon, an Eversource spokesman, said the utility estimated it would have everyone’s power restored by 11:59 p.m. Monday and many before then.

Michael Dalo, a National Grid spokesman, said about 800 customers had no power as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, most on Nantucket. Damage on the island, he said, included downed wires and trees on wires.

Seawater flooded the island town’s streets brought on by storm surges of more than three feet on Saturday morning, according to MEMA.About eight crews were working Sunday to make repairs, he said, and power was expected to be restored for most by midnight.

Since Saturday, National Grid restored power to more than 30,000 customers, including people who lost service more than once, he said. The utility reported having 276 customers still without power as of about 11 p.m. Sunday, including 239 outages on Nantucket.

During a Sunday morning news conference, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito asked for patience as road crews worked.

“The goal is to clean up more today, and get people back into their commute into work [and] help communities get kids back into school tomorrow,” she said.


When asked about any storm-related fatalities, she said officials were not aware of any.

Jamey Tesler, the state’s transportation secretary, said during the news conference with Polito that MBTA crews had cleared snow and ice from critical switch locations and main railyards, and cleaned up platforms, bus stops, and parking lots.

Most flights resumed at Logan Sunday, though officials asked people to check with airlines before heading to the airport.

North Shore communities mostly avoided the brunt of Saturday’s snowstorm.

Along with Gloucester, officials in Newburyport and Swampscott had braced for flooding at high tide, but said no serious damage occurred.

Newburyport Mayor Sean Reardon said he spent Friday knocking on doors in Reservation Terrace, a neighborhood in Plum Island, checking on residents and asking about preparations.

“We were really concerned about flooding damage to the homes out there, and so far, I haven’t heard of any extreme damage,” Reardon said.

In Plymouth, most residents were spared lengthy outages, an outcome that — along with blue skies and sunshine — sparked good spirits in the storm’s aftermath. By late afternoon, about three dozen customers remained without power, according to the state.

Brittany Coy, manager of the Marylou’s coffee shop in Plymouth’s Manomet village, drove an hour to work from Cape Cod Sunday morning on roads that were still messy.

She shoveled two feet of snow to reach the store’s front door, only to discover the locks were frozen. After clearing a side door and making her way inside to brew hot coffee, she found her diligence warmly appreciated by the neighborhood.


“We’ve had some $20 tips this morning,” Coy said. “People keep saying, ‘Thank you for coming to work.’”

A house across the street from the ocean on Oceanside Drive showing the effects of the wind, spray, and snow the day after the storm hit Cedar Point in Scituate.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Scituate’s power was restored to nearly the entire town by 11:30 a.m., except one coastal neighborhood hit hard by the wind, Scituate Fire Chief John Murphy said. In total, crews restored power to about 800 homes overnight, he said.

The town’s focus Sunday was getting enough roads and sidewalks cleared so school could open Monday. It’s a big job, Murphy said, but crews got a head start overnight. Those efforts were successful and schools are scheduled to be open.

“We’re trying to get some sense of order, clean things up in time for school tomorrow,” he said. “But overall, we didn’t really have anyone hurt and we’re pleased with where our cleanup efforts are today.”

Quincy resident Lynne Bollinger compared Saturday’s storm to the snowy onslaught brought by the Blizzard of ‘78.

That monster dumped more than 27 inches on Boston, and her family’s home was buried in snow. She said she remembered when her father tunneled from the roof to carve out a path for the front door.

On Sunday, she faced a far less daunting task — working on clearing her sidewalk after shoveling out her front steps.

“I really don’t mind the shoveling,” Bollinger said. “It reminds me of when I was younger.”

In Chatham, about half of the town remained without power early Sunday evening. By about 11 p.m., power had been restored to all but 85 customers in Chatham, according to Eversource.

Lyn Francis, who manages the Chatham Inn, said a generator was keeping lights and heat on in the lobby, as well as a few rooms.

No guests stayed there Saturday, she said, but a few area residents — including a woman in her 90s — came Sunday after losing the heat in their homes.

Francis has lived in Chatham for four years and previously spent 30 years in Vermont, so she’s no stranger to intense winter weather.

“We’ll get through it, we always do,” she said. “You just have to be patient and do the best you can.”

Jenna Russell and Tonya Alanez of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

John Hilliard can be reached at Andrew Brinker can be reached at Follow him @andrewnbrinker. Deanna Pan can be reached at Follow her @DDpan. Nick Stoico can be reached at Follow him @NickStoico.