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Blizzard Pounds Northeast


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BOSTON, Mass Dec. 8, 2003 (AP by Ed Golden)–The powerful snowstorm that plowed through the Northeast and piled more than three feet of snow in some places over the weekend had lost some of its strength Monday, though its effects lingered and hundreds of school districts announced they would be closed.

“It’s not unique but it is unusual that we would have a December snowstorm that would yield this amount of snow,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Charlie Foley.

In Massachusetts alone, more than 250 schools planned to close to give communities a chance to clear roads. Schools around New England also reported closures.

The deepest snow, 47 inches of it, was recorded in Pinkham Notch at Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Parts of New England were blanketed by nearly three feet of snow, with western Maine and the North Shore of Massachusetts particularly buried. Other parts of the Northeast approached the 2-foot mark.

The snow fell in some places for more than 36 hours.

On Monday morning, Boston had 17 inches of snow on the ground. Peabody, Mass., recorded 35.6 inches. The forecast in eastern Massachusetts was “abundant sunshine” and temperatures near 30 degrees.

The snowstorm was moving northeast toward Nova Scotia, said Neal Strauss, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

“It’s well east of Maine right now,” Strauss said. “They’re getting some backlash snow in Maine right now but the snow is beginning to diminish there now.”

Snow wasn’t the only problem. Flooding was also reported in some coastal areas, including Scituate, Mass., where water was a few feet deep on some roads, according to fire Capt. George Anderson.

Strauss said urban areas such as Boston were more likely to have light flooding because of poor drainage and snow-clogged sewers, but he did not expect more than an inch of water on the ground as snow melted later in the week.

Still, local and state officials were thankful that the storm came on a weekend.

“We were aided by the fact that it was the weekend, and there was no commute per se,” said Jon Carlisle, spokesman for MassHighway. “For the first significant snowfall of season, it went really well.”

He said about 3,300 snow plows and other equipment were out on the state’s highways at the peak of the storm early Sunday morning. It was not immediately known how much the state spent to plow and salt the highways, Carlisle said. In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino estimated removal costs at $65,000 an hour, reaching $3 million for the storm, the Boston Herald reported.

In New Jersey, more than 70,000 tons of salt and sand was used statewide to make roads passable, said Anna Farneski, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

The storm was blamed for one traffic death in Pennsylvania, one in Connecticut, one in upstate New York and two each in New Jersey, Vermont and Virginia. A 25-year-old man died in Rhode Island when the inner tube he was riding on, towed behind a truck, hit a utility poll. A New Jersey man collapsed outside his home while shoveling snow and later died, the hospital said.

The snow didn’t make it impossible to travel Sunday. Devoted New England Patriots fans made their way to Foxboro, Mass., where 28 inches of snow fell, to see their team beat the Miami Dolphins. But more than 23,000 ticketholders didn’t show up, and many that did found their seats piled high with snow. Some chose to just sit on the drifts rather than dig out by hand, and the stadium had a festive air as fans tossed snowballs.

Officials in Stamford, Conn., went ahead with the annual Heights and Lights celebration Sunday, which features a jolly, red-suited Santa rappelling down all 22 stories of the city’s tallest building while Bah Hum Bug tries to steal Santa’s toys.

Some were celebrating the storm. In Maine, ski resort owners were delighhted.

“This is incredible because we will be set up for the season,” said Wende Gray, executive director of the Maine Nordic Ski Council, after measuring 32-inch snow depth from the weekend storm in her backyard in Bethel.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press