Tuesday’s blizzard dumped almost a foot of snow on Boston, but it was the strong winds and freezing rain that proved far more ferocious.
Despite getting fewer inches than expected, Mayor Marty Walsh said Winter Storm Stella still delivered as far as wind and ice were concerned.
“We’re not getting the accumulation we thought we were going to have, but conditions are as if we were getting 20 inches of snow,” Walsh said during an afternoon press conference. “I’m looking out the window right now and it’s still coming down sideways.”
The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 54 mph in Boston, and into the 70s in other parts of Massachusetts. In Wellfleet on Cape Cod, gusts were reported at 79 mph, which is hurricane force, the NWS said.
Stella blew through much of the Northeast on Tuesday, dumping more than two feet of snow in places, cutting power to thousands and forcing the cancellation of more than 6,000 flights at airports.
As snow turned to sleet and freezing rain Tuesday evening, Walsh announced Boston Public Schools would remain closed for a second day on Wednesday.
“I don’t want kids and young children walking around on icy streets that might not be shoveled, Kids are kids and I don’t want them to put themselves into harm’s way,” Walsh said.
All standalone Boston Centers for Youth and Families will be open as a resource for children of parents who still have to go to work.
Freezing temperatures are expected to return by week's end, with more snow a possibility on Sunday.
Walsh said the major focus Wednesday and in the days ahead would be to get roads cleared down to the pavement.
“So if we do get another storm, it won’t be like it was a couple years ago,” he said.
Winds in excess of 50 mph knocked down trees and powerlines across the city, cutting power to 1,450 Bostonians. About half were still without power during the late afternoon on Tuesday.
“We expect that number to go up today because of the heavy snow that’s falling now.” the mayor said. “When you have snow on trees, ice on trees, eventually some of these are going to come down.”
In one particularly frightening near-miss, a tractor trailer skidded and jacknifed on the Zakim Bridge around noon. It was caught on the bridge surveillance camera, and no one was injured.