Crews push to clear roadways ahead of storm

A massive blower dispersed snow at Ipswich’s Crane Beach lot, which has become a snow farm.
Jonathan wiggs/Globe staff
A massive blower dispersed snow at Ipswich’s Crane Beach lot, which has become a snow farm.

Operating in bone-chilling cold, crews rushed on Friday to haul away towering snowbanks and treat major roads ahead of another approaching storm that is poised to bring blizzard-like conditions and flooding to the Massachusetts coast.

Forecasters said the latest in an unyielding succession of winter blasts could drop about a foot of snow and bring wind gusts as strong as 75 miles per hour. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Eastern Massachusetts from Saturday evening to Sunday morning, warning that travel could become “difficult, if not impossible.”

“People should just stay indoors this weekend,” said William Babcock, a weather service meteorologist.


Boston is expected to get another 10 inches, while the North Shore could get more than a foot.

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The MBTA said it would remain open Saturday but canceled late-night service to “get a jump-start” on clearing snow. All service for Sunday has been suspended.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced a snow emergency and parking ban will go into effect at 10 p.m. on Saturday.

The city also ordered an emergency reconfiguration of several streets in South Boston to one-way only to improve public safety, starting at 10 p.m. Saturday. Even-numbered streets will be westbound and odd-numbered streets will be eastbound. Main arterials will remain two-way streets, and streets that are currently one-way will stay the same.

The emergency order will end on April 1.


In a record-setting winter that has left the region digging out from at least 6 feet of snow, the storm could hardly be arriving at a worse time, officials said.

“It’s just an unprecedented situation,” said Michael Gallagher, director of administrative services in Weymouth. “We’re just trying to move all the snow back and figuring out how to rest our crews. This is taking a toll.”

The blizzard warning covers all of Massachusetts east of Worcester County, with the exception of a small part of western Middlesex County. A blizzard warning means that sustained winds or frequent gusts of more than 35 miles per hours are predicted, with considerable falling and/or blowing and drifting snow.

Governor Charlie Baker said the storm will bring “significant challenges” and urged people to avoid driving. Crews from eight other states have been working on a “24/7 basis” to clear and remove snow, he said.

With the storm bearing down, National Guard teams continued to clear roads and fire hydrants in hard-hit communities, making as much room as possible for the fresh snowfall. North of Boston in Ipswich, workers raced against the clock in anticipation of heavy snow and winds.


“We’ve really pushed our crews,” said Robin Crosbie, the town manager.

The Massachusetts National Guard sent 16 soldiers and 12 vehicles to Gloucester Friday to help the coastal city with snow removal, said Sergeant Alfred Tripolone III, a Guard spokesman. Gloucester has received more than 80 inches of snow.

On the South Shore in Scituate, officials declared a state of emergency, starting at midnight on Saturday. “We anticipate the visibility to be so severe on Sunday morning that the DPW crews will not be able to work effectively,” officials said in an advisory.

Boston-area utility companies have activated their emergency response plans and are deploying hundreds of workers to clear downed trees and reconnect power lines if they occur during the expected blizzard.

National Grid said it had 80 crews in place to deal with downed trees and branches and another 250 linemen crews prepared for the storm. Eversource Energy, the utility company formerly known as NStar, said its plans includes putting repair teams and equipment in strategic locations around Eastern Massachusetts.

Forecasters said moderate flooding was possible along the eastern coast of the state, with the shoreline from Salisbury to Cape Ann most at risk.

The series of storms has carried a heavy financial toll for communities that have been in “full emergency response mode” for weeks, said Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

“They’ve plowed right through their budgets,” he said. “Communities will plow first and figure out how to pay for it later, but eventually the bill comes due.”

The weather continued to cause public transit delays. Shuttle buses were used along a closed stretch of the Red Line on Friday, though Orange Line service between the Oak Grove and Wellington stations was restored. Numerous commuter rail trains were canceled.

“There are a myriad of different issues, all influenced by the cold,” said Mac Daniel, a spokesman for Keolis Commuter Services, which runs the commuter rail for the MBTA.

Daniel said employees struggled to provide regular service on Friday because 13 train sets were off line as a result of the snow. Usually, the system runs 63 to provide weekday service.

The T said it would provide service on Saturday after Walsh reversed his stance on whether the agency should remain open.

On Thursday, the mayor had called for the T to close over the weekend. But Friday morning he issued a statement saying that closing the service for the weekend “would pose an incredible hardship to workers and people living throughout Boston.”

The delays did the same. Jon Seamans waited 45 minutes at Fairmount Station in Hyde Park for a train that never arrived. Seamans said passengers were not given any information, so he eventually decided to go home.

“I was on the verge of frostbite,” he said. “I have to take the day off now.”

The snow is also expected to impact Logan International Airport, where parking spots could run low this weekend.

Massport said Friday that the airport expected to be squeezed close to capacity over the next two weeks, with the regular rush of February vacation travelers made worse by the mounds of snow.

Laura Crimaldi and Nicole Dungca of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Jack Newsham contributed to this report. Peter Schworm can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globepete.