Wind-whipped snowstorm slams US Northeast

2015-02-15 21:17
(Steven Senne, AP)

(Steven Senne, AP)

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Boston - A storm brought a new round of wind-whipped snow to the northeastern New England states on Sunday, creating near-whiteout conditions in coastal areas and forcing people to contend with a fourth winter onslaught in less than a month.

A blizzard warning was in effect for coastal communities from Rhode Island to Maine into Monday; and a bone-chilling blast of cold, with lows of minus 23°C was in the Sunday night forecast in parts of the region.

As the storm lashed the coastline of Cape Cod Bay with heavy surf and nearly 30cm of fresh snow, Red Cross volunteer Marc Lieber was riding it out at home in Sagamore Beach. He was on standby, but even if called, he said he probably would not be able to deploy.

"I can't get out of my driveway," Lieber said. "The earlier snow hasn't gone away, and now this."

30cm of snow had fallen across much of eastern Massachusetts by Sunday morning, with Ipswich and Salisbury recording 50cm, according to the National Weather Service. Before it is all over, coastal areas of New Hampshire and southern Maine could see up to 60cm, weather forecasters said.

"The best thing people can do is stay home, stay indoors," said William Babcock, a weather service meteorologist.

Governor Charlie Baker in Massachusetts and Governor Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island warned motorists to stay off the roads.

Baker said Sunday morning that high tide was not as severe as anticipated, with no reports of major flooding, but warned that winds gusting over 96km/h could bring power outages.

One house of worship, the Union United Methodist Church in Boston, cancelled Sunday services and instead was holding a prayer call via telephone.

Transportation officials in the region had taken precautions. Nearly 400 Sunday flights were cancelled at Boston's Logan International Airport, and none was scheduled on Sunday morning. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority cancelled all rail, bus and ferry service in the Boston area on Sunday.

Ahead of the storm, forces gathered to remove piles of snow and ready for the next round. More than 1.8m of snow was already standing in some areas near Boston from previous storms.

Massachusetts called up hundreds of National Guard troops to assist with snow removal, and the Hanscom Air Force base outside Boston became a staging area for heavy equipment pouring in from eight other Northeast states to help in the effort.

The bad weather spanned several states - winter storm warnings extended west into Michigan and Ohio, where whiteout conditions led to a pileup on the Ohio Turnpike that killed at least two people. Another storm-related crash on the New York Thruway south of Buffalo killed one person.

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