A lengthy nor’easter brought heavy snow and wind-driven rain to parts of Massachusetts Tuesday, bringing down trees and power lines and forcing schools to close or cancel classes across the state.
Governor Maura Healey, facing the first major storm of her nascent administration, ordered all nonessential state employees to stay home and urged drivers to stay off the roads.
More than 1,700 pieces of snow removal equipment were deployed on the Massachusetts Turnpike and other state roads and highways, particularly in central and Western Massachusetts, where some communities had more than two feet of snow, officials said.
[4 AM] Gusty northwest winds will persist today, especially across the high terrain of central and western Massachusetts. This may lead to additional damage where heavy, wet snow stuck to trees and powerlines during yesterday's significant snow event. pic.twitter.com/DoZNYjhvSk— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) March 15, 2023
“It’s been quite a storm, especially for those living in the higher terrains of central and western Massachusetts,” said Torry Gaucher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norton.
Worcester had 11.7 inches of snow, while Paxton and Ashburnham in northern Worcester County saw over two feet of snow as of Tuesday evening, Gaucher said, and Colrain, Rowe, and Hawley in northwest Franklin County saw around 33 to 36 inches of snow.
Boston and other coastal communities, particularly on Cape Cod, were largely spared the impact of the storm, with less than one inch of snow accumulation reported as of 9 p.m. Tuesday, the weather service said.
Across the state, approximately one to three additional inches of snow was expected to fall from 8 p.m. onward, before tapering off around midnight, Gaucher said.
“We still may have some snow showers that linger until 4 to 6 a.m.,” Gaucher said.
Updated preliminary snowfall amounts across southern New England. Thank you to our observers for sending in reports throughout the day. Snow will begin to taper off overnight with another 1-3 inches expected. #MAwx #RIwx #CTwx https://t.co/KaHKORn3Zx pic.twitter.com/8fdmjInOXa— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) March 15, 2023
Some public school districts with high snowfall totals, including Gardner and Fitchburg,
announced public schools would be closed on Wednesday. Other communities, such as Duxbury and Hull on the South Shore, announced schools would have a two-hour delay.
More than 32,000 Massachusetts customers were without power as of 6 a.m. , predominantly in the western and central parts of the state, according to the state emergency management agency’s outage map.6
A wind advisory Barnstable and Nantucket counties until 8 a.m. Wednesday, with winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts between 40 and 50 mph possible, the weather service said.
The storm kept road crews busy throughout Tuesday. At 9 p.m., MassDOT had approximately 1,176 pieces “deployed in snow and ice response” and speed limits on the Mass. Turnpike from the New York border to Millbury were limited to 40 miles per hour.
Noon Update: #MassDOT has approx 1,437 pieces of equipment deployed in snow and ice response. 40 MPH speed restriction remains on I-90 from NY border- #Millbury (MM 94). Highway districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 are patrolling & plowing. Use https://t.co/v2W0B7nXYc #DontCrowdThePlow pic.twitter.com/IhbR4mg3rV— Mass. Transportation (@MassDOT) March 14, 2023
State officials reported downed trees on roads in Fitchburg, Pittsfield, Shelburne, and New Ashford, as well as a crash on Interstate 495 in Chelmsford. A utility pole came down in the roadway on Route 2 in North Adams, officials said.
The storm also affected MBTA service, with the Charlestown and Hingham/Hull ferries canceled due to anticipated high winds. Regular service is due to resume Wednesday, the MBTA said.
All Charlestown and Hingham/Hull Ferry service has been cancelled for today, March 14th, due to the forecasted high winds.— MBTA (@MBTA) March 14, 2023
The storm also hampered air travel, with the tracking site FlightAware reporting at midnight that 299 flights had been canceled at Logan International Airport in the past 24 hours.
Western Massachusetts bore the brunt of the late winter blast.
By about 2 p.m. Tuesday in Goshen, a small town in Hampshire County, Scott Bisbee, a service manager at George Propane on Route 9, had already spent hours removing a downed tree from his driveway before coming into work, and he described the scene outside the business as “a big, white mess.”
As of mid-afternoon, workers at the business were still digging out as the snow continued to fall, he said.
Customer traffic was slow.
“There’s not much going on, near as I can tell, for anybody,” Bisbee said.
But George Propane had no plans to close early.
“There’s no closing early in the propane industry,” Bisbee said.
In Hawley, Julia Lemieux, owner and operator of the Windy Ridge Organic Nursery, said she first lost electricity around 3 a.m. and was still waiting for it to be restored almost 12 hours later.
“They actually got it back on again for a little while at 5 and then it went out again at 6,” she said.
Lemieux lost four trees in the storm, including an apple tree more than a century old that “snapped right in half,” she said.
“We haven’t had a storm like this in probably about 11 years,” said Lemieux, who has lived in the area her whole life. “It’s just heavy, wet snow and it’s falling pretty quickly.”
Travis Andersen, Kathy McCabe, Emily Sweeney, Emma Platoff, and Amanda Gokee of the Globe staff and correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this report.