Winter storm brings tens of thousands of power outages and travel disruptions to Mass

A woman with an umbrella walks down Marina Park Drive in the /Seaport during a storm. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A woman with an umbrella walks down Marina Park Drive in the /Seaport during a storm. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

If we’re airing grievances today, let’s start with this weather.

Pack an umbrella and rain jacket if you’re doing any last-minute holiday shopping, and make sure to charge your phone. Today will be a windy washout for basically all of New England — with isolated gusts up to 60 mph threatening to knock out power in some areas. State officials are reporting more than 72,000 households without power just after 9 a.m. — and the number has been rising. The National Weather Service says the winds will peak this morning. If you’re in Boston, officials are asking you to report downed trees or power lines to 311.

Remember: the mild temperatures are also expected to drop rapidly tonight (we meet again, bombogenesis). And while the high winds should dry roads relatively quickly, there is a chance of a flash freeze Friday evening. So, to reiterate, drive carefully.

Massachusetts regulators are eyeing Jan. 30 for a “soft launch” of in-person sports betting, followed by a full public launch the next day. That means the state’s three casinos would take bets from staff and invited guests only on Jan. 30 to test out their equipment and operations, before allowing the general public to join Jan. 31.

  • The state’s Gaming Commission didn’t officially vote on the date, so it could still be moved, depending on whether the casino’s kiosks and technology can be inspected in time.
  • But if they stick to the plan, it means in-person betting will be up and running by the Super Bowl — but just a little too late for the NFL’s semifinal conference championship games.

Gov.-elect Maura Healey is hoping her search for a new MBTA general manager takes “a matter of weeks and not several months.” But however long it takes, we found out yesterday who will be replacing Steve Poftak for the time being. Poftak’s deputy, Jeff Gonneville, a 20-year MBTA veteran, will take over as interim GM on Jan. 4. (He also subbed in as interim GM before Poftak took the job in 2018.)

  • Healey’s transition team hired an executive search firm earlier this week to begin looking “statewide, nationally and internationally” for the T’s next permanent leader.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration released this week an updated outline of the state’s plans to reach net-zero carbon emissions. And while the roadmap mostly echoes the state’s previously released plans, it does provide an interesting, detailed glimpse of what the outgoing administration envisions the state will look like in 30 years:

  • State House News Service reports the administration projects that “virtually all” of the state’s 5 million cars will be electric and 80% of homes will have electric heat pumps. Overall, the state would reduce its emissions 85% below 1990 levels, while the remaining carbon would be offset by natural lands like forests.
  • Go deeper: Read the SHNS’s full report to get into the weeds on the state’s policies to work toward these goals.

P.S.— 2022 has been a busy year. The T had one debacle after another, Massachusetts voters elected a new governor and scientists are learning new ways to cope with climate change. Test your knowledge of what was in the news this year with this special edition of our Boston News Quiz.

This article was originally published on December 23, 2022.

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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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