As It Happened: Record Snowfall Wallops Mass.
2/11 editor’s note: We’ve closed this rolling coverage as residents return to work Monday.
We're closing up for the night.
The state is recovering from the effects of Friday and Saturday's winter storm.
The sun came out today, the MBTA is running with limited service, the number of power outages has been steadily decreasing, and communities are working to clear their roads and sidewalks.
A lot of kids out there are getting an additional snow day, since Boston Public Schools, for one, are closed on Monday.
For the adults, many of us had our own snow days this weekend. Even with the chore of shoveling, the lack of power, the difficulty of transportation, there's something about a snowstorm that brings out the kid in all of us:
Vatche Arabian of Watertown captured the snowstorm's progress by making a time-lapse video. His camera took a photo every two minutes, starting Friday morning and running into Saturday afternoon. Here's what he came up with:
For more user-submitted media of the winter storm, check these out:
4PM (2/10) outages in MA (rounded): NGRID 52K, NSTAR 173K, Total 225K #MAstorm
— MEMA (@MassEMA) February 10, 2013
Due to the significant amount of work ahead, the company is advising customers still without power to be prepared for a multi-day restoration effort and to plan accordingly.
Customers in the Attleboro area are expected to be restored today. In the Brockton area and in Quincy, customers should be fully restored by midday tomorrow. The restoration effort on the South Shore in communities such as Hanover, Norwell, Scituate and Cohasset should be complete by the end of the day Tuesday.
National Grid also provided safety tips for electric and natural gas customers.
This post was updated at 4:50 p.m.
During his midday press conference, Mayor Thomas Menino emphasized that Boston's snow emergency parking ban is still in effect.
"We want to give the public works crews more time to push the snow back so we have wider streets," he said. "Especially with the workforce going back to work on Monday morning, we want to make sure the city's operable."
The city explains the parking ban on its website:
Parking regulations are strictly enforced during snow emergencies. Violators will be subject to ticketing and towing. During declared snow emergencies, parking is prohibited on major arteries so that the streets are accessible for snow plows, emergency vehicles and other public safety responders.
To avoid getting a ticket, read important dos and don'ts about Boston's parking regulations.
Here's the latest tally of the state's power outages from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency:
1PM (2/10) outages in MA (rounded): NGRID 64K, NSTAR 178K, Total 242K #MAstorm
— MEMA (@MassEMA) February 10, 2013
Here are the utilities' outage maps:
— BostonPublicSchools (@BostonSchools) February 10, 2013
If you're a BPS student, you've got an extra day to enjoy that snow.
If you're a parent, you're probably wondering about childcare arrangements. Mayor Menino's office lists on its website four community centers where you can bring your kids tomorrow:
Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) will have four community centers open Monday for parents who need a safe place for their child to spend the day. Children must be over age 6 and any child under 12 needs to be dropped off with a parent to fill out a short form before they leave the child. The centers will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Open BCYF centers are:
BCYF Curtis Hall Community Center, 20 South Street, Jamaica Plain
BCYF Hyde Park Community Center, 1179 River Street, Hyde Park
BCYF Paris Street Community Center, 112 Paris Street, East Boston
BCYF Tobin Community Center, 1481 Tremont Street, Mission Hill
The Associated Press reports:
Officials are warning of carbon monoxide dangers after two people, including a child, died in Boston while sitting in running cars after the winter storm.
Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald says a father who was shoveling snow in the Roxbury neighborhood put his son in the running car to stay warm.
MacDonald says the car's tailpipe was clogged with snow and the boy, who was 13 or 14, was overcome by carbon dioxide and died. His name has not been released.
Later Sunday, a man in his 20s was found dead in a running vehicle in the Mattapan neighborhood. MacDonald said the car's tailpipe was also clogged with snow.
Also, two children overcome while sitting in a car in East Boston were taken to a hospital but are expected to recover.
Senate President Therese Murray urged residents to be careful. Murray lives in Plymouth and said the town has already received 18 carbon monoxide calls.
"People using their generators inside the house -- dumb. It's going to kill you," Murray cautioned. "People really have to be careful about the buildup of that gas. We don't want to see anybody else die."
In a series of tweets, The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts shared some safety tips:
Know the carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: Headache, dizziness, nausea, fainting, shortness of breath, fatigue
— RedCrossEasternMA (@RedCrossEastMA) February 10, 2013
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: Be sure to clear the snow behind your car's exhaust pipe.
— RedCrossEasternMA (@RedCrossEastMA) February 10, 2013
Prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning: Never operate a portable generator or any other gas engine-powered tool in or near an enclosed space.
— RedCrossEasternMA (@RedCrossEastMA) February 10, 2013
This post was updated at 5:15 p.m.
The latest tally from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency:
8AM (2/10) outages in MA (rounded): NGRID 65K, NSTAR 179K, Total 244K, largely southeast portion of state #MAstorm
— MEMA (@MassEMA) February 10, 2013
Here are the utilities' outage maps:
The MBTA resumed limited service starting at 2 p.m. today.
Here's the 4 p.m. update from their website:
Limited service is operating on the MBTA's Red, Orange, Blue, and Green Line between Kenmore and Lechmere. The C-Branch will operate limited service between Kenmore and Cleveland Circle and the D-Branch will operate limited service between Kenmore and Riverside.
Limited bus service is also operating on the Routes 1, 23, 28, 32, 39, 71, 73, 77, 89, 93, 100, 106, 108, 109, 111, 116, and Silver Line Washington Street Only. Unless necessary, customers are encouraged to stay home and use service sparingly.
Regularly scheduled MBTA service will resume at the start of service on Monday, February 11, 2013.
Customers should expect significant delays and plan extra time for their Monday morning commute as MBTA service recovers from the impacts of the storm. Due to significant snow accumulations, customers are encouraged to use caution at station platforms and bus stops.
— MBTA (@mbtaGM) February 10, 2013
This post was updated at 4:40 p.m.
We're closing up shop here for the night. For a roundup of the storm, its aftermath and the recovery efforts, check out:
WBUR will continue to offer coverage throughout the weekend.
Most of all, be safe out there. And try to have some fun, like this guy:
Patrick Peralta, of Arlington, documented the snowstorm's progress by making a time-lapse video of his backyard. Recognize those voices in the background?
For more user-submitted videos and photos of the blizzard, check these out:
Transportation Secretary Richard Davey (@MassDOT) spoke with WBUR's Susan Levy.
Listen to the full interview:
"We are redeploying equipment from the western part of the state to the central and eastern part of the state...We've also reached out to other states for assistance," Davey said.
About 3,600 crews have been on rotation, cleaning up the state's roads.
MBTA Still Shut Down
"Bus service would be significantly hampered with local road conditions. And with the subway system, we have a serious communications problem right now, which we are rectifying," he said. "Our focus is to ensure that the Monday morning rush hour is as normal as we can make it."
Take Home Message
"We really are asking folks tonight to travel only if necessary because we have a lot to do to clean this up," Davey stressed. "The storm is over but our clean-up is just beginning."
Over 240,000 NStar customers (or, about one out of every five) don't have power, as of 4:40 p.m. Saturday. National Grid is reporting just over 125,000 customers without power.
Follow their outage maps here:
In the wake of a two-alarm fire Friday night in Roxbury caused by candles in a bedroom, Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser recommended, "Please don't use candles. Try to use flashlights. If you must use a candle, don't leave it unattended."
The National Weather Service Boston has just released this graphic (click to enlarge):
At 24.9 inches at Logan Airport, this snowstorm checks in at No. 5 all-time for the city.
A February storm in 2003 holds the record, at 27.6 inches of snow. At No. 2 is the famed Blizzard of '78, with 27.1 inches.
Notice also the marks elsewhere in southern New England. Worcester's airport received 28.7 inches of snow, good for No. 3 all-time in that city. Hartford saw its second-biggest-ever snowstorm, at 22.8 inches, and Providence had its ninth-biggest storm, with 17 inches of snow.
All this, of course, pales in comparison to Portland, Maine, which surpassed its previous record of 29.3 inches of snow.
Here are a couple of highlights from Gov. Deval Patrick's afternoon press conference.
Rake Those Roofs
The governor said the existing amount of snow coupled with forecasts for warmer temperatures and rain on Monday could lead to structural problems for homeowners.
"With the rain coming on top of the snow, it adds significantly to the weight and therefore the structural risks to some roofs...a particular concern to flat roofs," he explained.
"Begin to remove snow from roofs as the weather permits. Do that with a snow rake or get a professional who knows what they're doing. Don't take any unnecessary chances, " Patrick advised.
Travel Ban Lifts, But Dangers Remain
The travel ban lifts at 4 p.m. Saturday, but the governor urged people to still stay home.
"There were lots of people...walking in the streets because the streets were mainly clear. That's one reason. The other reason they were walking in the streets is that the sidewalks are not clear. With the lifting of the travel ban it means that everyone -- drivers and pedestrians -- have to exercise extreme caution," he said.
"It is still the better judgement, if you can, to stay in and off the roads and let those who are clearing the snow and helping us recover and restore ourselves to normal do their jobs with as little congestion and interruption as possible."
If you were hoping to watch the Bruins play the Lightning tonight, here's some unfortunate news:
Tonight's TBL/BOS game has been postponed due to continuing, weather-related State of Emergency that is in effect in BOS. Make-up date TBA.
— NHL (@NHL) February 9, 2013
"The big story now is the wind and the cold," meterologist Mark Rosenthal said. "If you're digging out, you need to bundle up. Wind chills are running zero or below. The wind in Boston is still from the northwest, gusting over 35 miles per hour."
Listen to his full forecast:
Rosenthal did have a little bit of optimism, though. "The good news is tomorrow the sun will shine. It should be about 35 or 36 degrees," he said.
And that, of course, reminded us of this:
Here are some highlights from Mayor Thomas Menino's midday press conference.
"Please stay home so we can allow our crews easy passage to those streets," the mayor advised. "Start shoveling today. Please help our public works employees out by not throwing snow back into the streets."
The mayor also emphasized watching out for young kids playing outside. "The [snow] drifts are so high in some locations that little kids get hidden behind them and cars come around the corner -- you might have an accident."
"Please stay off those major arterials, " Traffic Commissioner Tom Tinlin added. "Please leave your cars in those garages. Adhere to the parking bans and to the travel bans." (The statewide travel ban lifts at 4 p.m. Saturday.)
Put Away Those Candles
Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser urged residents to take community responsibility. "Help us help you by shoveling out the fire hydrants in your neighborhood," he said.
In light of the two-alarm fire last night in Roxbury caused by bedroom candles, Fraser added, "Please don't use candles. Try to use flashlights. If you must use a candle, don't leave it unattended."
Help The Homeless
"Our shelters are open. They're open all day; they're open all evening," Barbara Ferrer, Public Health Commissioner said. "Today we will have many people who are homeless who will venture back out to just get out of the shelters for a break...We especially need to make sure this evening that people come back in."
"If you see homeless people, people poorly dressed people who appear very disoriented or severely intoxicated -- these are emergency calls. They should be made to 911," Ferrer explained. "Both our EMS service and our police are prepared to go out and pick up those people and help them get to a safe place."
"The snow's wet, it's heavy, and there's a lot of it. You need to use a lot of caution if you're going to try to shovel out snow today," Ferrer cautioned. "This is a job only for people who are physically fit. We ask that if you're not physically fit, you please take a lot of care; try to find somebody else to help you shovel out, or take it very slowly.
"With this kind of wind chill factor, nobody should be outside that's not appropriately dressed," she added.
A Boston boy has been pronounced dead after a carbon monoxide incident that happened while he and his father were shoveling out their vehicle.
The Boston Fire Department responded to Nazing Street in Dorchester before noon and found the boy in cardiac arrest. When firefighters arrived, two neighbors were performing CPR.
The boy's father also went into respiratory arrest, the department reported. Both were taken to area hospitals.
As the department had detailed, in a series of tweets:
The father and son were shoveling walkway and around their SUV. Boy got cold. Car started and boy sat in car getting warm.
— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) February 9, 2013
The back of the SUV was completely encased in snow about 4 feet high. The car filled with carbon monoxide.
— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) February 9, 2013
The exhaust was completely covered in the large snow bank. Both victims transported by Boston EMS to area hospitals.
— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) February 9, 2013
The department later clarified that the vehicle was a sedan, not an SUV.
This post was updated at 6 p.m.
The governor has announced the travel ban has been lifted for Nantucket and all communities west of I-91. The ban remains in effect for the rest of the state until 4 p.m.
Driving ban lifted immediately for Nantucket County & for all communities west of I-91; driving ban lifted statewide as of 4 PM. #MAStorm
— Deval Patrick (@MassGovernor) February 9, 2013
Still, the governor is asking people to stay off the roads to "allow plows, utility crews and safety officials to clear streets and restore power."
The city of Boston allows resident to "reserve" their shoveled-out parking spots for 48 hours after a snow emergency is lifted.
Most people use a lawn chair or a trash can, but Tom Tinlin, the Boston transportation commissioner, says sometimes people get creative.
"We've taken a toilet bowl or two," Tinlin said. "People I think like to put old computer monitors out."
After the 48-hour period, the city's public works department will take leftover space savers during routine trash pickups.
In both Cambridge and Somerville, it's illegal to reserve shoveled-out spots at any time.
Still no flights in or out of Logan Airport this afternoon. Officials say the earliest they'll have an open runway is 11 p.m.
For flight status updates, click here.
Crews continue to do battle with the Blizzard of 2013 and we hope to opena runway by 11pm
— Boston Logan Airport (@BostonLogan) February 9, 2013
WBUR's Steve Brown went for a walk around the neighborhood near the station today and tweeted this photo of the Green Line B branch, facing west, at Comm Ave. and Amory Street.
Here's what he had to say:
It’s getting a little bit easier to get around Boston on foot. I stepped out of the station for a few minutes around 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning just to get a sense of what it’s like outside. There were a handful of people making their way down Commonwealth Avenue. I did see one brave soul on a bicycle. He or she was walking the bike through a deserted intersection.
All the way down Commonwealth Avenue, as far as I could see, the road was clear, however the snow bank almost completely buried parking meters and mailboxes. Also completely buried is the B-Branch of the Green Line.
As we've reported, the MBTA announced there will be no service Saturday and they are focusing on getting ready for Monday's morning commite.
The latest tally from MEMA:
10AM (2/9) outages in MA (rounded): NGRID 164K, NSTAR 249K, Total 413K #MAstorm
— MEMA (@MassEMA) February 9, 2013
As we reported earlier, utility crews won’t be able to respond to the outages until conditions are safe for them.
“We are responding to emergencies as we can, but in terms of getting out to make repairs, the roads are just not to that point yet, nor is the weather itself,” National Grid spokesman Mike Durand told WBUR this morning.
According to the National Weather Service in Boston, the last heavy band of snow is moving across eastern Massachusetts and pivoting east towards the Cape.
— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) February 9, 2013
At last check, the official snow total in Boston was 21.8 inches, but that was before 8 a.m. The next official measurement is at 1 p.m.
"I’m going to sound like a hapless romantic, but here goes: blizzards bring us together," Ethan Gilsdorf wrote for WBUR's Cognoscenti. "The heaps of white stuff renew the landscape with fresh possibility. Snow softens the world. And us."
Multiple events across the city are aiming to just that.
The Artisan's Asylum is asking people to gather in Union Square at 1 p.m. today to "build snow forts, snowmen, and whatever other snow sculpture you want in Union Square." They'll be there with music and some hot chocolate. And this isn't their first city-wide snow playdate. They pulled people together in January 2011, too. (As of 9:30 a.m., they're still on.)
Banditos Misteriosos is gathering at Seven Hills Park in Somerville (near Davis Square) at noon with a mission of building a snowman army. "We want to see small snowmen, big snowmen, snowdogs, snowcats, snowladybugs, entire families of snowmen, and non-gender specific snowpeople." (As of 10:30 a.m., they're still on)
And on Sunday, The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research (including WBUR's own Greg Cook) is inviting everyone to join them in building snow sculptures on the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square. **THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED**
If you go, be sure to tweet us your photos @WBUR.
This post was updated on Feb. 10 at 2:55 p.m.
Gov. Patrick says that he will reassess driving conditions midday today before making any decisions on when to lift the statewide travel ban.
"I understand people want to be out and back to their routines," Patrick told WBUR's Bob Oakes. "I just want to make sure that we have taken account of the safety concerns and we have the most up to date information."
Listen to our complete conversation with the governor below:
The latest from the National Weather Service on the coastal flood threat:
— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) February 9, 2013
And for the latest forecast from meteorologist Mark Rosenthal click play below:
With high tide expected to hit around 10 a.m., a coastal flood warning is in effect for the Massachusetts' coastline until noon.
The National Weather Service warns that moderate to major coastal flooding is likely with severe beach erosion in some spots.
The warning adds that "very large waves on top of an above normal tide will likely cause a number of vulnerable shore roads to become impassable for a while."
Gov. Patrick just said on our air that the state is expecting and preparing for possible flooding from Hull all the way to Sandwich.
For a map view of the coastal flood threat, click here.
This just in from the MBTA:
— MBTA (@mbtaGM) February 9, 2013
As we reported earlier, the MBTA said it's hoping to be back up and running by the Monday morning commute, if not sooner.
There's a good chance you won't be getting your Boston Globe delivery this morning.
In an email, the Boston Globe told subscribers that, "Because of severe weather conditions, the Globe's print edition could not be delivered to all home delivery customers or retail outlets."
You can still, of course, access the paper online.
MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo says there is significant work to be done in the next few days before service can resume.
"We'll be looking to restore service in incremental fashion over the next 24 to 48 hours," Pesaturo said. "But it is not likely we'll be able to restore any of the service today."
The T says it is hoping to get the system back up and running by Monday morning.
Snow trains ran overnight, working to clear snow and ice build up on tracks. Here's a video taken from behind the controls of a train on the Green Line C branch last night.
Many on the Cape and Islands are without power this morning. The map above shows NStar outages, the areas in black mean 91 to 100 percent of customers in that region are without power.
NStar alone is reporting more than 240,000 outages, with National Grid reporting about 161,000. These numbers are changing quickly. Follow the outage maps here:
According to the Associated Press, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth has shut down after losing off-site power. Authorities say there's no threat to public safety.
The worst of the storm is due to hit the Boston area around 10 p.m. We'll be picking up with more coverage starting tomorrow morning, but we'll leave you with these final updates.
Read a roundup of the storm's progression, the state's efforts and warnings in place.
Listen to meterologist Mark Rosenthal's forecast for Friday night into Saturday and Sunday:
Stay tuned for more tomorrow morning. Be safe.
As of 8:30 p.m., the major utility companies in Massachusetts report over 55,000 customers are without power. These numbers are expected to grow. To stay abreast, check out the utilities' power outage maps:
Judge explained that if you can show a legitimate reason for being on the road, you should be fine in the eyes of the law.
"If you provide an essential or critical service, whether you're private sector or public sector, and you've got the credentialing to show you are who you say you are, then you can be out there," he said. "We want to discourage as many people as possible to be out there. That's the bottom line. We're worried about people's safety. We're not trying to be restrictive about this."
Judge said so far public works crews are keeping up with the storm.
Hospitals often report a baby boom nine or 10 months after a blizzard, but what if you’re due now and wondering if you’ll be able to get to the hospital for a delivery?
That's exactly Kate Mitchell's situation. She's pregnant with her first child and preparing to potentially deliver tonight. (Fun fact: Kate herself was born during a blizzard.)
Learn more about Kate's story, including how area hospitals are preparing for the storm.
As of 7 p.m., the major utilities in Massachusetts are reporting that nearly 13,000 customers are without power. These numbers change fast and are expected to grow. To track power outage numbers, follow the utilities' outage maps here:
While most establishments in the state are shut down for the night, WBUR's Kathleen McNerney stopped in at the Burren in Somerville's Davis Square earlier this afternoon, and staff members there said they'll probably be open all night (provided there's power) since all of the staff live nearby.
Burren customers Tim Walsh and Brian Fulton, who are cousins, told Kathleen they felt ready for the storm:
I'm sure we'll be fine. I think it's -- people get worked up, but we'll be fine. We went to Stop & Shop, so it's all good. Everybody else was there. We got our milk, eggs. We ran out of coffee, though. So we have no coffee, and that could be a problem.
Officials, however, have warned residents to stay inside if they can.
Meteorologist Mark Rosenthal spoke with Sacha Pfeiffer of All Things Considered.
"We're looking at whiteout conditions now coming from the South," he said. "It's just a matter of time until Boston will get into that, probably within the next hour or two."
Rosenthal predicted the storm would slow down slightly Saturday morning. But that doesn't mean we won't see considerable snow accumulation.
"Even though the worst of the storm will be over for central and western New England earlier in the day, we could still get some pretty good now in the Greater Boston area and eastern-most New England into earlier perhaps mid-tomorrow," Rosenthal explained. "It's not out of the realm of possibility that some towns are going to wind up with close to 3 feet of snow before it's all said and done."
Listen to the full forecast:
Meteorologist Mark Rosenthal told our Newscast unit that the worst of the storm is expected to come at about 10 p.m. tonight. He said, in part:
Once the temperature starts to plummet, it's going to be a powder blizzard out there, and the winds will become a big factor tonight. We are in for an all-out blizzard all night long in Boston.
You can track the storm's movement with our interactive map.
We've got a running collection of photos showcasing New England's winter storm -- and here are two of our favorites.
A man runs along the Charles River near Harvard Square in Cambridge:
The normally-bustling Park Street Station in downtown Boston was empty at 3:30 p.m. when the MBTA official shut down service:
With snow expected to fall 2 to 3 inches per hour in the Greater Boston area, it's time to reach for that shovel.
"Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow," recommends the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Overexertion can bring on a heart attack -- a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside."
The city of Somerville had Lowell students demonstrate some pre-shoveling stretches:
If you'd like someone to walk you through it, here's Dr. Scott Gillman, a sports chiropractor in Newton, demonstrating proper shoveling technique.
And, depending on your city, you could be fined if you don't shovel your property:
A statewide travel ban is now in effect. Here's more on the ban from MEMA:
All motorists MUST be off the roads except for public safety and public works workers, government officials conducting official business, utility workers, healthcare workers who must travel to provide essential, news media. Travel also is allowed if necessary to maintain and deliver critical private sector services such as energy, fuel supplies and delivery, financial systems and the delivery of critical commodities, or to support business operations that provide critical services to the public, including gasoline stations, food stores and hardware stores. Motorists must use their best judgment in determining if travel is permitted under an exception to the ban. Law enforcement is being asked to interpret the exceptions broadly; the objective is to limit traffic as much as possible while allowing critical public and private sector services and functions to use the roads as necessary. Do not call 9-1-1 about the travel ban, phone lines are needed for emergency calls.
You can read the governor's executive order here.
Meteorologist Mark Rosenthal spoke with Radio Boston's Anthony Brooks just after 3 p.m.
"Before all is said and done we're going to have about 20 to 30 inches of snow in and around the Greater Boston area," Rosenthal said. "I'm sure there are going to be pockets of 3 feet, we just can't pencil that in yet."
To listen to the entire forecast, press play below:
We hope you're all home by now, but in case you're still out and about, a reminder that all MBTA service will end today at 3:30 p.m. No estimate yet on when it will resume.
Transit Police just tweeted there were just six trains left heading out of South Station before service is suspended.
— MBTA Transit Police (@MBTATransitPD) February 8, 2013
And a statewide travel ban that goes into effect at 4 p.m. technically extends to taxis, although there's a chance some will be operating.
Here & Now spoke with Scituate harbormaster Mark Patterson as the coastal town prepared for this weekend's snowstorm.
Patterson was about 13 years old when the Blizzard of '78 struck, but he remembers it well. His family was evacuated from his house, which was completely underwater. They ended up moving after the storm.
“It was a tragedy,” Patterson said.
Patterson says this time around, many people have already evacuated and boarded up their homes.
To listen to the entire interview with Patterson, and to see more photos of the town in the aftermath of the Blizzard of '78, click here.
When was the last time state officials banned vehicle travel? MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz said that a similar ban went into effect after the blizzard of '78, and he was unaware of any other ban since then.
Don't call it hype. The new director of the National Weather Service says some may be getting carried away in describing the winter storm bearing down on the Northeast. But he says the science is simple and chilling.
Louis Uccellini is an expert on snowstorms. He says meteorologists are telling people that this is a dangerous storm because it is.
For more than a week, forecasters have seen it coming. And they believe it's worthy of a nickname like the huge East Coast storm of 1993 that weather experts call the "storm of the century."
Snowbound MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel agrees that forecasters are telling it like it is. But he adds people love to talk about and obsess over extreme weather. He calls it weather porn.
Written by The Associated Press' Seth Borenstein, from Washington.
The town of Marshfield is asking residents to evacuate low lying areas that are prone to flooding.
The southeast coastal areas from Hull to Sandwich are forecast to be the hardest hit. Residents that live along the coast or flood prone area should consider evacuating to a safe location prior to the beginning of the storm.
Lieutenant Paul Taber, director of the Marshfield Emergency Management Agency, said flooding is a major concern.
"Saturday's high tide, we're anticipating a four to five foot storm surge, which is historic in proportions. And we're anticipating some structural damage to houses and properties along the waterways," Taber said.
Officials say the main concern is that roads could become impassable in some areas -- even for emergency vehicles.
Marshfield opened a shelter at 1:00 p.m Friday for both Marshfield and Duxbury residents.
More updates can be found on the town's emergency management website.
Scituate is also suggesting that residents in low lying areas evacuate.
Boston officials are asking for the public's help in watching out for any homeless people who are still outdoors.
"If people see anybody who looks, appears homeless, disoriented, or ill walking outside throughout the storm please call 911," said Barbara Ferrer with the Boston Public Health Commission. "This is an emergency call, and both the police and EMS are ready to respond and make sure that those folks come inside and are taken to a shelter."
The city says that it has extra space in the shelters to accommodate anyone who needs it.
Gov. Patrick has officially declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts as of noon today.
During a press conference from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency bunker Friday afternoon, Patrick also announced a statewide travel ban on all roads starting at 4 p.m.
Signed an Executive Order banning vehicles on the road effective at 4pm today. #mastorm
— Deval Patrick (@MassGovernor) February 8, 2013
The ban, which will be in effect until further notice, covers all motor vehicle traffic across the state, with some exceptions for both public and private sector employees. Patrick said drivers seen on roadways after 4 p.m. could face up to a year in prison or a $500 fine, but conceded the penalties are unlikely.
Patrick also urged state residents to use cautions as the storm ends Saturday afternoon.
“We expect that the storm will end sometime late tomorrow afternoon and the sun may even come out," Patrick said. There will be great temptation at that time to run out and view the aftermath, play in the snow – and I total understand that. But please, please exercise caution and use common sense.
“There are hazards under this winter wonderland. We want everyone to exercise extreme caution even after the storm ends.”
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino echoed Gov. Deval Patrick at a press conference this afternoon, asking residents to stay home.
"Let the public works crews do their job for the next 48 to 72 hours," Menino said. "Make sure that our public safety vehicles are able to get through the streets of our city."
Menino also reminded city residents to move their cars off of major arteries before the snow emergency goes into effect at noon.
"Teams will be tagging and towing vehicles that remain on those main arteries," he said. "Reduced rate garages are open now, so please get your cars off the streets."
The Archdiocese of Boston says Catholics do not have to attend Mass this weekend if they cannot do it safely.
In a statement, the Archdiocese said that in the event roads are not clear for travel on Sunday, "the faithful are reminded that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass does not apply when there is grave difficulty in fulfilling this obligation."
WBUR's Steve Brown had an easy time getting into work this morning. Here's his report on travel and preparations ahead of the storm:
People seem to be heeding the governor and mayor’s call to stay home today. I left my home in East Bridgewater around 8:35 Friday. That’s usually at the peak of the rush hour, and would normally mean a 90-minute commute, minimum. I pulled into the parking garage around 9:30. It was like driving on a Sunday morning. There were plenty of empty parking meters in Kenmore Square. A parking ban goes into effect at noon.
It was high tide around 9 a.m. when I passed the Neponset River on the Expressway, near the Keystone Apartment building. The marsh near the radio antennas was flooded more than usual and the handful of boats at the Dorchester Yacht Club were practically even with the expressway. This is what it was like without high winds and a pounding storm. I can just imagine what it will be like tonight at the next high tide, when the storm will be hitting us full throttle. Officials are warning of coastal flooding tonight and tomorrow. People directly on the coast should take heed.
Some gas stations remain open. The station where I normally fill up was out of gas last night when I wanted to top off my tank. I did manage to find another station that was open, but needed to wait 20-25 minutes in line before I could get to the pump. I went to another station this morning to fill my daughter’s car. There were no lines, however they only had the premium blends of gasoline available.
Residents of Scituate are being asked to evacuate from coastal areas.
According to a statement on the town's website, "Central Avenue north of Newport Street in Humarock is expected to be impassable after 7:00 p.m. on Friday evening. Residents are advised that police, fire, and emergency personnel will not be able to travel safely in this area."
Patricia Vinchesi, town administrator, says a shelter is being set up at Scituate High School.
"We've advised the residents in the areas most prone to coastal flooding to seek alternate shelter before the storm and definitely before the high tides," Vinchesi said. "We're particularly emphasizing that to residents in the northern part of Humarock."
The town says it will open its shelter at 6:00 p.m. tonight.
Last call for Somerville residents: The city is reminding you to move your cars to the odd side of the street before the tow trucks make it to your neighborhood.
— City of Somerville(@SomervilleCity) February 8, 2013
It seems like many are heeding the warnings of emergency officials and stocking up before hunkering down for this weekend's storm.
I was at the Porter Square Shaw's last night, where checkout lines were backed up into the aisles. WBUR's Nate Goldman had the same experience at the Shaw's on Comm Ave in Allston. Above, the milk case in the Dedham Stop & Shop was nearly empty Thursday night.
How are you preparing in the final hours before the storm? Tweet us your photos @WBUR.
National Grid has categorized the coming blizzard as a "Level 5" storm. Which, according to National Grid president Marcy Reed, "is the highest category we have. That means we expect outages which could be greater than three days."
Reed says power restoration will take time because workers can't begin work until heavy winds die down.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is asking people to stay off city roads and be good neighbors.
"During the snowstorm, if everyone cooperates, we'll get through it. If you have a senior citizen living next door to you, knock on the door, see if they need anything."
Menino, echoing state officials, says the city's biggest concern is power outages.
"Yesterday we had a meeting on that with our parks and public works crews," he said. "It's about execution. We have a plan, now we have to execute the plan."
Menino also asked residents to help public works crews by shoveling not just sidewalks in front of their homes, but also nearby fire hydrants and pedestrian ramps.
Listen to our complete interview with Menino here:
Meteorologist Mark Rosenthal says he expects Boston to see the worst of the storm beginning between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. tonight through 7 a.m. tomorrow morning, with snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour:
The heaviest snow will arrive between 6 p.m. tonight and 8 p.m. tonight and then it's just going to be heavy snow all night with hurricane force winds. There could be flooding along the coast tonight, I'm worried about the high tide at 10 p.m. with northeast winds picking up at 35 mph to 75 mph. There could be gusts up to 80 mph from Boston to Cape Cod. That's a distinct possibility and even tomorrow morning if you're up at 6, 7, 8 a.m. it's going to be snowing quite hard in the Boston area with very strong winds. I think the worst of the storm will be over in Boston by noon, but light snow could linger in the Boston area until dark tomorrow.
Listen his complete forecast here:
Early morning flights were getting in and out of Logan Airport, but afternoon and evening arrivals and departures are already being cancelled.
Greyhound and other bus lines are canceling most of their service in the Northeast as well.
State officials are urging residents to stay home or be off the roads by noon.
"We want to avoid the blizzard of '78 condition where people were stuck on roadways, abandoned their vehicles, which then prevented snow and ice clearing operations," said Frank DePaola, the state Transportation Department’s highway administrator.
With a major winter storm heading toward New England, Gov. Deval Patrick is urging Massachusetts residents to take warnings seriously and stay off the road.
WBUR's Fred Bever filed this report for our Newscast unit:
Patrick is urging private employers to keep their non-essential workers at home too. He says drivers should stay off the roads after noon, and the T will shut down at 3:30 -- once second-shift hospital workers and emergency responders have reached their posts.
"During this period, we are also expecting gale-force winds," Patrick said. "The accumulation is expected to be swift, heavy and dangerous."
Patrick says he expects utilities to respond to outages with heightened sensitivity, after their much-criticized response to other recent storms. He adds that 1,000 Massachusetts National Guard troops will be active today.