Arctic air next for New England
Boston — Another weekend, another major snowstorm: The latest system to sweep the Northeast brought another foot to Boston — on top of 6 feet that has fallen over the last month — and tested New Englanders who say the winter is beginning to feel like one without end.
Even after the storm, forecasters warned of exceptionally cold air, perhaps the coldest in years. Strong winds that were expected to continue into Monday reduced visibility, created drifts and complicated an ongoing cleanup effort.
“It’s historic. It’s biblical,” attorney Frank Libby said he walked down a deserted street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. “I think we’re in uncharted territory. People just don’t know how to deal with the logistics of it.”
He had one message for Mother Nature: “Give us a break.”
Meanwhile, forecasters were talking about another storm on the horizon for midweek.
A deep freeze
A bone-chilling blast of cold blew into New England as the last snowflakes fell Sunday, meaning the Northeast could see the lowest temperatures in years.
“The big story is subzero air temperatures with wind chills as low as 20 to 40 below zero,” Matthew Belk of the National Weather Service said, adding that exposed skin could start to develop frostbite in “a matter of minutes.”
“The big thing is to dress in layers and don’t go outside if you don’t have to.”
The Arctic cold front already had frozen the upper Midwest, with temperatures in Michigan plunging to minus-27 in the Upper Peninsula.
Allan Tufankjian of Scituate, Massachusetts, said it’s discouraging every time he looks at the forecast.
“If saw one day that was above freezing, I’d be very happy,” he said. “I looked seven days ahead and every single day, the highest temperature I could see is 26 degrees.”
Some areas of New England reported nearly 2 feet of snow from the storm including Acushnet, Massachusetts, with 22 inches, and Salisbury with 20.5 inches. Boston recorded 13 inches of new snow. At the easternmost tip of Maine, Lubechad had 2 feet.
With many intersections already clogged by soaring snow banks, forces mobilized before the storm to remove piles of snow. Massachusetts called up the National Guard troops to help and Hanscom Air Force base outside Boston became a staging area for heavy equipment pouring in from eight other Northeast states.
Lightning and whiteouts
Although the storm did not bring the eye-popping snow totals of others this season, it made its presence felt with lightning strikes and strong winds that left visibility close to zero for stretches along the coast.
“Oh my goodness, it’s a whiteout!” said Sue Baker of Lubec, Maine, observing the wind blowing outside her bed and breakfast, the Peacock House.
The Coast Guard said it rescued an Australian father-son sailing team whose boat lost power and had its sails torn in 60 mph winds about 140 miles southeast of Nantucket.
In Vermont, the wind was enough to force shut-down of the Lake Champlain ferry cross between Charlotte and Essex, New York.
On Cape Ann north of Boston, Patrick McGehee said he was awed by lightning strikes early Sunday morning when he took out his dog.
“I wasn’t sure what was going on, if it was some kind of spiritual event or what,” said McGehee, the owner of the Mary’s by the Sea summer rental business in Rockport. “The whole sky lit up like somebody lit up a lightbulb.”
Planning an escape
The Klose family — Clint, Sue and daughters Caitlin and Kiersten — attacked a mountain of snow in front of their Concord, New Hampshire, house Sunday morning. Just last week, Clint Klose booked a trip for the girls and him to Orlando, Florida.
“You just need a break!” he said. “We need some Vitamin D that we’ve been deprived of.”
Klose said the family wouldn’t forget this winter.
“I would say it’s been the harshest winter in the shortest amount of time,” he said. “In the past five weeks, it’s just been a slamming event and a slamming event and a slamming event one after the other.”
Southern snow, too?
New Englanders won’t be the only ones with the winter blues, forecasters say. A snowstorm could bring 6 to 9 inches to parts of Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Freezing rain was forecast for northern Mississippi and 2 to 4 inches of snow and sleet will be possible in north Georgia.
The storm also threatened Atlanta, where just over a year ago an ice storm trapped commuters for hours on the region’s freeways.
Belk said that once this storm heads out to sea, it may turn north and drop a fresh round of snow on the Northeast on Tuesday, though it’s unclear how much.
“The question is whether it grazes by southern New England on its way out to the North Atlantic,” he said.
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