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A frigid day of digging out, but relief is on the way

Ted Haines shoveled his front walk in East Bridgewater, where snow totaled 19.5 inches. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

EAST BRIDGEWATER — Mary Howard, 53, cradled a gold chalice-like container and gripped her car keys Sunday morning while helping her elderly father down icy church steps.

Howard, who lives in Whitman, brought her 93-year-old father to St. John the Evangelist Church in neighboring East Bridgewater so they could attend Sunday Mass. As they left, she carried the small golden container, called a pyx, so she could bring the Eucharist to a hospital where her sister was recovering after a car crash Friday.

“The smart people stayed home,” she said laughing about the deep snow around her. “We’ll get a few extra blessings for coming with God as my copilot.”

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East Bridgewater was buried in 19.5 inches of snow — the most in the state — after Saturday’s storm, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton.

The first snowstorm of 2017 came on strong, with officials warning of “blizzard-like” whiteout conditions and asking people to stay off the roads, but no serious problems were reported. The storm dumped more than a foot of fluffy powder across much of the eastern part of the state before departing around midnight. Southeastern Massachusetts was hit hardest, while the western half of the state got only a few inches.

Boston received 7.2 inches of snow, according to the weather service. For comparison, prior to Saturday’s storm, Boston had received a total of 7 inches for the entire season, according to meteorologist Alan Dunham with the National Weather Service.

The chairman of East Bridgewater’s Board of Selectmen, William Dowling, said his town’s Department of Public Works was well-prepared and workers began treating the roads with salt Saturday morning, well before the storm was in full swing around noon.

“DPW worked through the night,” Dowling said. “By [Sunday] morning, the roads were already clear and down to bare pavement.”

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It took Kevin Hardiman an hour with a snow blower Sunday morning to clear knee-high snow from the long driveway in front of his East Bridgewater home. But all things considered, he said, it was a smooth experience for a New England snowstorm.

The snow “was nice and light, so that made it a lot easier,” said Hardiman. “It’s sunny. It’s definitely better than doing it at the height of the storm with the wind blowing the snow back in your face.”

At the Elmwood cemetery in East Bridgewater, Sunni Gonzales, 40, of New Bedford, drove with her family through an entrance that was hidden under snow. But she knew where to find it.

No storm would keep Gonzales from visiting the grave of her older brother, John Neil. Sunday was the day before the anniversary of his death in 2008, and the family gathered at his grave as they do every year.

A few years ago after a storm, the family had a snowball fight around his grave.

“He was a very loving person,” Gonzales said, tearing up.

She bent down and wrote “John” in the snow with her lip-gloss container. Her children wrote “I love you” in the snow, made snow angels, then laughed and chased each other, falling into the fresh snow.

“I want to say how much I love him and I miss him,” said Deborah Gonzales, Sunni Gonzales’s mother, as she looked at the gravestone partly covered in snow. “This is what drug addiction does.”

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In Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh did not declare a snow emergency or ban parking on city streets during the storm, but the city cancelled overnight street sweeping into Monday morning, according to the city of Boston.

Boston property owners are required to clear snow from sidewalks around their homes and businesses within three hours after snow ends or three hours after sunrise if it snows overnight, Walsh said in a statement Saturday. If the snow is not cleared, property owners could face fines of $50 to $200.

By around 7 p.m., inspectors had issued 156 tickets for noncompliance with the ordinance, according to city spokeswoman Samantha Ormsby.

Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley tried an innovative incentive program to keep fire hydrants clear: Via a tweet, he offered kids a $5 gift card to the JP Licks ice cream shops if they shoveled out a hydrant and had their parents tweet back before-and-after photos.

The MBTA “performed very well” in the midst of the storm Saturday, and no weather-related delays were reported, said spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

On Saturday, commuter rail trains ran into slowdowns around South Station due to an Amtrak power outage, but handled the weather well otherwise, said Keolis spokeswoman Leslie Aun.

The commuter rail system resumed its regular service for Sunday, according to the MBTA website.

Kevin Hardiman used a snowblower to clear snow from his driveway in East Bridgewater on Sunday. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

At Logan International Airport, about 7.5 percent of flights were cancelled Sunday, according to MassPort spokeswoman Jennifer Mehigan.

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Marie Simon came to the airport early Sunday morning with three of her children to say goodbye to her daughter, Kethia Ducrepin, who was heading to California to start a new job. Kethia was supposed to take off on a Delta Air Lines flight at 6:30 a.m., but shortly after noon, the four were still sitting in Terminal A, snacking on some pastries.

Since their arrival, Marie said, the flight had been pushed back at least four times. It was finally scheduled to leave at 3:35 p.m.

Cold followed all the snow. In Boston, the temperature on Sunday only reached 22 degrees and was expected to dip to about 5 degrees overnight, according to meteorologist Stephanie Dunten with the National Weather Service.

But after the shovels are put away, Massachusetts residents can look forward to a taste of spring-like weather this week.

For Monday, temperatures should be similar to Sunday’s, with no snow or rain in the forecast, said Dunten. But Tuesday is expected to have highs near the 40s, followed by highs in the low to mid-50s Wednesday through Friday.


Sean Smyth of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Martha Schick contributed to this report. Nicole Fleming can be reached at nicole.fleming@globe.com. Cristela Guerra can be reached at cristela.guerra@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.