A man battles fierce winds as he climbs a hill after leaving his car in a parking lot during a driving ban on Friday in Portland, Maine. The ban was just one measure governments across the region were enforcing during a vast snowstorm, one that forecasters warned could be a blizzard for the history books, with a potential for up to 3 feet of snow. The storm clobbered the New York-to-Boston corridor on Friday, grounding flights, sending office workers home early, knocking out power to half a million customers across the Northeast — and reopening the old wounds of Hurricane Sandy.
By Friday night, more than 18.5 inches of snow had fallen in parts of central Connecticut, and more than 16 inches covered parts of Mansfield, Mass., a half-hour drive southwest of Boston. Throughout the Northeast, more than 500,000 homes and businesses lost electricity as wet, heavy snow, freezing rain and howling winds caused havoc.
Earlier, as meteorologists warned of the impending blizzard conditions, shoppers from New Jersey to Maine crowded into supermarkets and hardware stores to buy food, snow shovels, flashlights and generators, something that became a precious commodity after Superstorm Sandy in October. Others gassed up their cars, another lesson learned all too well after Sandy. Across much of New England, schools closed well ahead of the first snowflakes.
“This is a storm of major proportions," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said. “Stay off the roads. Stay home."
The wind-whipped snowstorm mercifully arrived at the start of a weekend, which meant fewer cars on the road and extra time for sanitation crews to clear the mess before commuters in the New York-to-Boston region of roughly 25 million people have to go back to work. But it could also mean a weekend cooped up indoors.
In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told people to stay home and warned them not to “panic buy" gasoline because the supply was plentiful. But the memory of Hurricane Sandy in October was still so raw that many across the region went on buying sprees anyway, emptying store shelves and filling extra containers of gasoline in addition to their car tanks. “I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as they’re saying, but I said that with Sandy too," said Lavel Samuels, 42, as she filled her tank at a gas station in Queens.
That grim mood contrasted sharply with a more playful sense among some in New England, where the prospect of new snow thrilled skiers. But in most cities and towns, Friday was largely a day of preparing for the worst. With hurricane-force winds, the National Weather Service expects flooding along the Atlantic Coast that could affect up to 8 million people.
— From wire reports