The storm claimed at least four lives and added to the march of extreme weather events in the past year that includes Hurricane Sandy, a deep drought, the hottest U.S. year on record and widespread wildfires in the West.
Authorities in Boston said an 11-year-old boy died from carbon-monoxide poisoning when he and his father warmed up from snow shoveling by huddling inside a car whose exhaust was blocked by snow. In New York’s Columbia County, a man plowing on a tractor died when he ran off the road. A pedestrian in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., died after he was struck while walking along a snowy roadside, and a Connecticut man collapsed and died while shoveling snow, according to news reports.
The storm rumbled up the East Coast along the path of most of New England’s famed nor’easters. It lashed seafront towns, sent surges of water onto streets at high tide, and departed with tons of precious beachfront property.
But the combination of lucky timing — the storm arrived on a Friday — and advance warning gave residents plenty of time to hunker down and get off the roadways. That limited the problems and should allow a straightforward cleanup. Authorities praised Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s decision to order cars off the streets Friday, clearing the roads for emergency crews.
“I’m happy to report the city, so far, has weathered the storm well,” Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said at noon Saturday. New England’s largest city was dead center on the storm’s path but escaped major power outages and flooding.
Towns north and south of Boston fared worse. Waves chopped away the foundations of beachfront homes in Massachusetts communities of Sandwich, Hull and Scituate. Most of those homes were vacated by residents wary of the churning sea before a mid-morning high tide sent salty water racing through streets.
Power companies reported that 600,000 customers had lost power by Saturday morning. Utility crews remained poised inside motels, their bucket trucks parked, until the howling wind quieted to a whisper and the power workers could safely reach lines encased in ice and snow.
Governors in all the New England states declared states of emergency, opened up shelters, and shut down airports and public transport.
The storm rivaled the historic grip of the Blizzard of ’78, a 36-hour whiteout that New Englanders cite as a high-water mark of grim winters. This year’s storm plowed up the Atlantic coast and embraced Boston with sweeping arcs of snow and wind that reached into Vermont, New Hampshire and southern Maine on Friday night.