The third major snowstorm of the year descended on New England Tuesday, dumping as much as two feet of snow in some parts of Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts. The winter storm closed Boston schools and businesses and made for gnarly travel conditions by car and public transit.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for Southeastern New England, and warned of blizzard conditions along the Massachusetts coast. NWS Boston said the region was experiencing snowfall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches per hour. High winds toppled trees, taking out power lines and causing a new round of blackouts for Bay Staters who dealt with lack of power last week. By Tuesday afternoon, as snow steadily fell, some 180,000 power outages were reported in the Bay State.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency warned residents to avoid downed power lines and assume they are live. Downed lines can be reported by calling 911. Drivers reported whiteout road conditions with dangerously low visibility.
MBTA service during Tuesday’s blizzard
The MTBA was running Tuesday, but advised commuters to allow extra time for travel.
The commuter rail was operating with an “extremely reduced schedule” for all lines. The Red, Orange, Green and Blue Lines were running with reduced frequency, similar to a Saturday schedule. Bus shuttles were replacing the Mattapan Trolley service, and buses and the Silver Line were running on snow routes and detours. There was no ferry service.
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the T ran service roughly equal to what it operates on weekends, in part so the T could hold some trains out of service to keep them from being damaged in the snow and therefore unavailable for the morning commute Wednesday when many more workers are expected to head into Boston.
“The goal has been to provide a more limited service, but one that is sufficient to get people to where they need to be while preserving some of our equipment, which is aging, so we can run a normal rush hour tomorrow,” Pollack said. “Run less service, but run the service that we run well. That’s what happened this morning and we hope the same with happen this afternoon as well.”
It was not clear as of noon whether Boston schools would remain closed on Wednesday.
Gov. Charlie Baker and transportation officials said at midday Tuesday that there have been no major flooding or traffic problems associated with the nor’easter. The governor said the latest update he had seen still called for widespread snow totals of 12 to 18 inches across eastern and central Massachusetts.
“This storm is still getting — I wouldn’t call it still getting going, but there is still a lot of time left in this storm,” Baker said from the Department of Transportation Highway Operations Center in South Boston. He said the heavy snow that fell in some areas Tuesday morning is expected to continue to “fall about one to three inches per hour for most of the rest of today, ending later this afternoon.”
Baker asked people to stay off the roads Tuesday so crews can plow and treat roadways to make the Wednesday commute as smooth as possible.