'Blizzard 2010' A Hassle For Travelers, Residents

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Janeth Gonzalez shovels snow on Beacon Hill in Boston, Monday. (AP)
Janeth Gonzalez shovels snow on Beacon Hill in Boston, Monday. (AP)

Massachusetts continues to dig out from the blizzard of 2010, which hit Boston and coastal areas the hardest on Sunday. Yes, it is December, and yes, this is New England, but the blizzard starting the day after Christmas created chaos, especially for holiday travelers — many of whom are still stuck.

As for planes, Boston's Logan Airport never closed during the storm, but few flights got in or out. Travelers and airlines tried and continue to try to put together the puzzle of re-booking flights and passengers.

Sammy Yennigan missed his flight home to Washington, D.C., Sunday morning. On Monday he came up with what he hopes is a way to get to work on time on Tuesday.

"I'm waiting for a bus to take me to Manchester, then I'm getting on a flight to Philly and then transferring to Baltimore and taking a train to Washington, D.C.," Yennigan said. "It's going to be quite a trip."

The snowfall totals recorded at Logan Airport on Monday put this blizzard in a tie for the 10th biggest storm ever to hit Boston in terms of snowfall.

Logan Airport officials said it will take a few days before operations there are back to normal. As for the trains — they weren't really an option either. Amtrak service was shut down between Boston and New York Sunday night, but service was gradually restored starting Monday morning.

As for automobiles, the highways were in decent shape by noon on Monday, right when the blizzard warning was lifted. One thing that helped was Gov. Deval Patrick declaring a state of emergency early Sunday, telling non-essential workers to stay home, and coordinating with state agencies to deal with the storm.

"And there has been that coordination — people were very well prepared and the forecast this time turned out to be accurate," Patrick said.

State highway officials used thousands of pieces of equipment to keep the roads clear — and it helped that students weren't in school and many people had already taken the day off for the holiday.

Coastal flooding prompted what might be the most dramatic story from this storm in Scituate. It was one of six communities that opened shelters for residents. Scitutate Deputy Fire Chief John Murphy said that because of flooding, firefighters had to use a boat to rescue some residents.

"We had a lot more flooding than we thought we'd get. I think the winds were a lot higher than estimated," Murphy said. "So we had, in some areas we were dealing with 8-10 feet of water in the streets. We did the best we could — a lot of evacuations, a lot of wires down."

The flooding also prompted an electrical fire, which destroyed two homes in Scituate. No one was hurt.

Tens of thousands of people did lose power during the storm — mainly because of the strong winds. On Monday afternoon at the Blue Hills Observatory in Milton, wind gusts topped 65 mph. But Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Peter Judge said it could have been worse.

"Power outages never hit six-figure numbers. We were concerned that the heavy, wet snow and strong winds — we'd end up with some numbers like we saw with the ice storm," Judge said. "We sort of maxed out about 55,000."

So will the blizzard of 2010 go down in the history books? The snowfall totals recorded at Logan on Monday put this blizzard in a tie for the 10th biggest storm ever to hit Boston in terms of snowfall. National Weather Service meteorologist Eleanor Talbot said that is significant.

"Our records in Boston date back to 1892, so this is a very long record, so it's a pretty impressive storm that we've had," Talbot said.

More than 18 inches of snow was recorded at Logan — which is about nine inches short of what we still call "the blizzard of 1978."

Earlier Coverage:

This program aired on December 28, 2010.

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Deborah Becker Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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