Powdery snow blanketing area a mixed blessing
BOSTON – Homeowners and motorists dug out across the white-blanketed Northeast on Friday as extreme cold ushered in by the storm threatened fingers and toes but kept the snow powdery and mercifully easy to shovel. At least 15 deaths were blamed on the storm as it swept across the nation’s eastern half.
While the snowfall had all but stopped by morning across the hard-hit Philadelphia-to-Boston corridor and many highways and streets were soon plowed and reopened, temperatures were in the single digits and teens, with wind chills well below zero.
“The snow is easy to move because the air was so cold when it snowed that it’s sort of light and fluffy stuff – but, uh, it’s cold,” Avalon “Nick” Minton said as he cleared the entrance to his garage and sidewalk in Arlington, Mass.
And officials from the Midwest to New England are preparing for another arctic blast in the next few days that could be even worse.
The heaviest snow fell north of Boston in Boxford, which received nearly 2 feet. Nearly 18 inches fell in Boston and in western New York near Rochester. Lakewood, N.J., got 10 inches, and New York’s Central Park 6. Philadelphia got more than 6 inches.
Temperatures reached 8 below zero in Burlington, Vt., with a wind chill of 29 below, and 2 degrees in Boston. Wind chills there and in Providence, R.I., made it feel like minus-20 Friday morning.
Warming centers opened around the region, homeless shelters received more people, and cities took special measures to look after those most vulnerable to the cold. Teams in New York City searched the streets for homeless people, while in Boston police asked residents to call 911 if they saw someone in need.
The light, powdery snow was a blessing in another respect: It did not weigh down electrical lines or tree limbs, and as a result there were only a few thousand power outages across the Northeast.
Slick roads were blamed for several traffic deaths. In addition, a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease froze to death after she wandered away from her rural western New York home.
Severe cold also gripped the Midwest on Friday. In Wisconsin, the mercury dipped to minus-18 in Green Bay, breaking by 1 degree the record set in 1979. Fort Wayne, Ind., saw a record low minus-10.
Temperatures in the Midwest and the Northeast are expected to rise briefly over the weekend before the arrival of another blast of extraordinarily cold air.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton ordered school canceled on Monday statewide, the first such closing in 17 years, because of projected highs in the minus teens and lows as cold as 30 below.