Northeastern US digs out after being hit by record snowfall

The snowfall broke records set during the Blizzard of 1978 and testing the patience of officials and commuters.

By: Associated Press | Boston | Published: February 10, 2015 9:31:23 am

More than 2 feet (60 centimeters) of fresh snow piled up in parts of the northeastern New England states on Monday, breaking records set during the Blizzard of 1978 and testing the patience of officials and commuters as forecasters warned of more winter misery later in the week.

The latest onslaught forced the cancellations of hundreds of flights, tested transit systems and tempers and collapsed roofs straining beneath the weight of 5 feet (1.5 meters) or more of snow in less than two weeks.

Boston and areas south were hardest hit, with the National Weather Service reporting unofficial measurements of 26.5 inches (67.3 centimeters) in Weymouth, 26 inches (66 centimeters) in Sharon and 24.9 inches (63.25 centimeters) in Norwell. Forecasters expected more than 20 inches (50 centimeters) on the ground in Boston before the storm winds down early Tuesday.

Boston set a record for the most snow recorded in a 30-day period, with 61.6 inches (156.5 centimeters) by Monday morning, breaking the record of 58.8 inches (149.35 centimeters) set in February 1978.

“It’s awful. I’m done with it. It’s ridiculous,” said Priscilla Medina, a sandwich shop worker in Westborough, Massachusetts, suffering from a nasty case of snow fatigue.

Much of Connecticut and parts of upstate New York braced for 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters), and southern Maine was in for about 8 inches (20 centimeters) by the time the storm tapers off Tuesday.

Boston-area subways, trolleys and commuter rail trains ground to a halt at 7 pm on Monday and were scheduled to remain idle on Tuesday, with only limited bus service continuing.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said it needed the break to clear snow and ice from tracks and to assess equipment damaged by the storms.

Boston’s transit system, the nation’s oldest, has been particularly hard hit this winter. The buildup of snow and ice on trolley tracks combined with aging equipment has stalled trains, delaying and angering commuters. Fifty commuters were rescued Monday from a train that became disabled between stations in Quincy, south of Boston.

A frustrated Baker called that “unacceptable,” and commuters complained bitterly of the daily delays.

Amtrak canceled portions of its passenger train service linking upstate New York to New York City because of the storm. Hundreds of flights were canceled at Boston’s Logan International Airport, Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport and Maine’s Portland International Jetport and Bangor International Airport.

A 60-year-old man who had just finished work at a supermarket bakery in Medford, Massachusetts, was struck in a parking lot by a private snow plowing truck and died after being taken to a hospital, authorities said. Police interviewed the driver of the snow plow, but no charges were immediately filed.

Massachusetts emergency management officials confirmed that snow-laden roofs collapsed Monday in Quincy, Rockland and Bridgewater. No injuries were reported.

Forecasters said more snow was expected Thursday and again next weekend, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency warned that potentially record-low temperatures and wind chills are expected later in the week.

Two high-profile Massachusetts trials have been further delayed by the snow. State court officials said testimony in the murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez would not resume until Wednesday. Jury selection for the federal trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is accused in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, also was called off on Tuesday.

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