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More than 230,000 remain without power in Mass.; could take days to restore

Joanne Rathe/ Globe Staff

Tree limbs and wires down in Lexington on Thursday.

By , , and Globe Staff 

More than 230,000 customers remained without power Thursday night in Massachusetts after the second major storm walloped the state in less than a week, and officials said it’ll be a while before the lights come on for everyone.

National Grid was reporting 186,172 customers without power as of 10 p.m., while Eversource reported 46,946 customers were without power.

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The outages were spread across the eastern half of the state, with significant outages plaguing Worcester County, the Merrimack Valley, and the North Shore, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

“Our priority right now is public safety,” said Cordi O’Hara, president of National Grid of Massachusetts, during an afternoon briefing. “We need to attend to a significant volume of downed wires.”

She said over 800 crews were fanning out across the state Thursday in a “huge restoration effort on behalf of our customers.”

Heavy, wet snow and downed tree branches were putting pressure on power lines, O’Hara said, adding that “it’s going to be a multi-day restoration” process.

“Please plan to be without power for multiple days as we work through this significant restoration,” Eversource said on Twitter.

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The outages came as utility crews had restored power to all but 700 customers out of the 450,000 across Massachusetts who lost service from Friday’s nor’easter and the heavy rain, strong winds, and coastal flooding that accompanied it.

Michael Durand, an Eversource spokesman, said crews have been at work since the earlier storm.

“If there is any good news in all of this, it’s that we never demobilized,’’ Durand said. “For us, it’s just one big storm. We have been continually at work since last week.”

He stressed that Eversource had been restoring power for customers throughout the day Thursday but said full restoration for the entire customer base will likely entail “a 24-hour effort for at least into the weekend.”

Both utilities warned people not to approach downed wires because they could still be live. Also, licensed electricians must install the switch needed to connect a generator of any size to a home, officials cautioned.

In pockets of the North Shore and western suburbs, some towns essentially had no power at all. West Newbury, where MEMA reported 99 percent of electric customers were without service, emergency officials were chasing a rash of fallen brush and wires.

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“There are no lights on, sir,” said dispatcher Robert Peirce, who answered the phone at the police department. “The entire town is down, and there are trees all over the place.”

A smattering of roads were still closed throughout the state Thursday afternoon, mostly because of downed utility poles or trees, including thoroughfares in Amesbury, Framingham, and Somerset.

Flooding prompted Route 28 in Dennis near the Bass River Bridge and Rte. 3A near Bert’s Landing in Plymouth to remain closed Thursday afternoon.

Snowfall from the second storm, which began Wednesday night and extended into Thursday, brought the winter tally to 42.3 inches in Boston, up from about six inches at this time last year, according to the National Weather Service.

As of Thursday afternoon, the nor’easter that started Wednesday night had left 24 inches of snow in Rowe in Franklin County; 12 inches in Methuen; 13 inches in Holland in Hampden County; 20 inches in Pepperell in Middlesex County; 13.8 inches in Milton; and more than 8 inches in Chelsea and parts of Boston, according to the weather service.

And more could be coming.

The weather service said there’s a chance of some accumulating snow Monday and Tuesday.

“We know there’s going to be some sort of storm system moving off the coast. Obviously the question is, how close does it pass offshore?” weather service meteorologist Joe DelliCarpini said.

If the storm hits New England, inland areas are most likely to see significant accumulation. Rain is more likely along the coast, though that could change as the forecast comes into focus over the weekend, he said.

Stormy conditions made for a tough morning commute on Thursday.

The journey for commuter rail passengers Thursday was marked by long delays linked to trees across train tracks, a low-speed derailment of a Lowell line train in Wilmington, and the loss of power for three northern lines that forced the deployment of 70 temporary generators, officials said.

Power outages also prompted authorities to cancel a handful of commuter rail trains Thursday evening on the Lowell and Haverhill lines.

Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman, said crews made excellent progress on removing trees from the Riverside line and also made sure the overhead power lines were functioning properly. He said the Riverside line and the Mattapan trolley on the Red Line would both be running for the evening commute.

On the Southeast Expressway, however, the HOV lane will not open for the evening commute because of snowy conditions, MassDOT said.

The storm prompted Boston Public Schools and other public and private schools to close Thursday.

Governor Charlie Baker called a snow day for non-emergency state workers. State courts opened at 10 a.m. except in Bristol, Plymouth, and the Cape and Islands, where precipitation was mostly rain and courts will have normal schedules.

Around 1 p.m., MassDOT deployed 610 crews treating and plowing state roads, down dramatically from the 3,000 crews who were working Thursday morning.

There will be a chance of a snow flurry in Greater Boston overnight, with lows being in the upper 20s, said Alan Dunham, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Friday morning’s skies will be partly sunny in the region, changing over to mostly cloudy in the afternoon There is a 30 percent chance of scattered snow showers in Greater Boston on Friday, but there will be no accumulation, said Dunham. High temperatures will be in the upper 30s, he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the National Grid president for Massachusetts.


Danny McDonald of the Globe Staff contributed Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com
Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.

John R Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com
Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.