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Northeast digs out from winter storm and faces power outages

The storm began Monday night and lasted throughout Tuesday, dumping as much as three feet of snow and gusty winds

John Baril
Central Maine Power Co. lineman John Baril works to restore electricity, on March 15, 2023, in Lewiston, Maine.Robert F. Bukaty (AP)

Parts of New England and New York were digging out of a nor’easter Wednesday that caused tens of thousands of power outages, numerous school cancellations and whiteout conditions on the roads.

The storm began Monday night and lasted throughout Tuesday, dumping as much as 3 feet (91 centimeters) of snow and gusty winds. Others got just a few inches or a wintry mix. More high winds and below-normal temperatures were in Wednesday’s forecast before a warm-up later in the week.

“The storm is still centered off the New England coast and there’s still some snow showers wrapping around the backside of the system that is impacting portions of New England,” National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Pereira said. He added the system is expected to “gradually work its way off to the East.”

Some of the highest snow totals reported were 35 inches (89 centimeters) in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and in Ashby, Massachusetts, about 15 miles away (24 kilometers), the National Weather Service said. At least 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow fell in parts of northern New York and the Catskill Mountains, with Indian Lake in New York’s Adirondack Mountains recording 31 inches (79 centimeters).

“It just snowed, and snowed, and snowed,” said Geoff Settles, a supervisor at a manufacturer who lives in Peterborough. “My wife and I were helping some of the neighbors dig out. Literally, we had to shovel five and six different times just to keep it from being basically up to our chest.”

Settles, who grew up in Leominster, Massachusetts, remembered blizzards there in the late 1970s. “I would say this is the most snow I’ve seen all my life,” he said Wednesday.

About 185,000 customers in the region were without power by mid-morning Wednesday, according to the PowerOutage.us tracking site.

“We are still expecting this to be a multiday restoration effort,” Unitil spokesperson Alec O’Meara said. Crews from New York and Pennsylvania arrived to help bring back power in parts of Massachusetts and help assess damage from trees and downed lines.

There were concerns about roofs weighed down by the snow. An inflatable sports arena dome collapsed in Goffstown, New Hampshire, which received about 15 inches (38 cm) of snow. It wasn’t immediately known whether anyone was inside at the time or if there were any injuries.

Several cows were killed when a barn collapsed at a dairy farm in Dracut, Massachusetts. The owners of Shaw Farm said in a statement Tuesday that they “experienced one of life’s unexpected challenges,” adding that no staff members were hurt.

During the worst of the storm Tuesday, about 2,100 flights traveling to, from or within the US were canceled, with Boston and New York City area airports seeing the highest number of scrubbed flights, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware. Numerous schools had been closed; many were running on a delayed schedule Wednesday.

As residents in the Northeast dealt with the storm’s aftermath, forecasters warned of more flooding and potentially damaging winds as a new atmospheric river pushed into a swamped California. So far this winter, California has been battered by 10 previous atmospheric rivers, long plumes of moisture from the Pacific Ocean, as well as powerful storms fueled by arctic air that produced blizzard conditions.

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