- (Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder)
New Englanders were digging out from 3 feet of snow and stranded motorists were still being reached by emergency crews early Sunday after one of the biggest blizzards in a generation left at least 10 people dead and over 700,000 without electricity across the northeast.
Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts bore the brunt of the howling winter storm's fury on Saturday, with the highest snowfall of 40 inches in Hamden, Conn. Several motorists were stranded overnight on New York's Long Island, and were being reached by emergency crews.
At least five deaths were reported in Connecticut, according to Gov. Dannel Malloy and police. Those killed in storm-related incidents include an 80-year-old woman who was hit by a vehicle while clearing her driveway, a 40-year-old man who collapsed while shoveling snow, a 73-year-old man who slipped outside his home, a 53-year-old man who was found dead in the snow, and a 49-year-old man who died while shoveling snow.
Authorities in Boston, Mass., reported at least two deaths: that of an 11-year-old boy who was poisoned by carbon monoxide in a parked car, and a man in his early 20s who was also found unconscious in his car.
Local reports said a man in his 70s was struck and killed on a snowy roadway in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and a 23-year-old man was killed in Germantown, N.Y., when his tractor rolled down an embankment.
Authorities in New Hampshire said a 30-year-old motorist died when his car went off the road, though his health might have contributed to the accident.
The storm dubbed as "Nemo" – the convergence of two storms, an Alberta Clipper from the west and a storm from the south – also caused coastal flooding forcing evacuations of some communities in Massachusetts. It brought wind gusts of 80 miles per hour, cutting power lines and felling trees.
For many areas, "this storm will rank in the top five of recorded snowstorms," The New York Times quoted David Stark, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in eastern Suffolk County on Long Island, as saying. "The way this evolved was a very classic winter nor'easter," he said. "The way it formed and moved is well understood, and it is the type of situation we have seen in the past – but this storm brought more moisture and therefore more snow."
Utility companies reported about 700,000 customers without electricity across nine states as the wet, heavy snow brought down tree branches and power lines, according to Reuters. More than 400,000 homes and businesses lost power in Massachusetts, over 180,000 in Rhode Island, about 10,000 in Long Island.
"To say the least, the weather conditions are prohibitive as to us being able to restore things as quickly as we'd like to," National Grid spokeswoman Charlotte McCormack told the media. "There's subfreezing temperatures, equipment freezing, downed wires, and some of the roads were and are still impassable."
About 2,200 flights had to be canceled on Saturday, for a total of more than 5,800 over the past two days, according to FlightAware. Additional cancellations are expected on Sunday as well.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a news conference Saturday morning, expressing relief that the city was able to avoid worse damage. "I think it is fair to say we were very lucky," he said. He also offered assistance to other cities.
Some churches urged their congregants to be careful before deciding to attend services during the weekend.
"In those situations where the conditions are extremely difficult or dangerous, the members of the Church are, of course, dispensed from the normal obligation," the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, R.I., said in a statement.
The archdiocese in Boston also reminded parishioners that church law says the responsibility to attend mass "does not apply where there is grave difficulty in fulfilling obligation."
Some churches in affected areas announced they had cancelled services on Sunday.