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Another in ‘biblical’ series of snowstorms hits US Northeast

/ 07:59 AM February 16, 2015

BOSTON, United States — Another weekend, another major snow storm: The latest system to sweep the US Northeast brought another foot (30 centimeters) to Boston — on top of 6 feet (1.8 meters) that has fallen over the last month — and tested residents who say the winter is beginning to feel like one without end.

Even after the storm, forecasters warned of exceptionally cold air, perhaps the coldest yet of the season. Strong winds expected to continue into Monday reduced visibility, created drifts and complicated an ongoing cleanup effort. Forecasters were talking about another storm on the horizon for midweek.

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“It’s historic. It’s biblical,” attorney Frank Libby said as he walked down a deserted street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. “I think we’re in uncharted territory. People just don’t know how to deal with the logistics of it.”

He had one message for Mother Nature: “Give us a break.”

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Deep freeze

A bone-chilling blast of cold, with lows of minus-10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-23 degrees Celsius) was in the Sunday night forecast in parts of the region. The temperatures are expected to be the coldest of the season, according to the National Weather Service.

“We’re dropping below zero and wind chills will be dropping to 20 below (minus-29 C) and maybe minus-25 (minus-31 C) by morning,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson. “People should take it seriously. It is the coldest in Massachusetts in many years.”

The Arctic cold front already had settled over Michigan by midday Sunday, sending temperatures plunging to minus-27 F (minus-33 C) in the Upper Peninsula and minus-22 F (minus-30 C)in the northern Lower Peninsula.

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Snow totals

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Some areas of New England reported nearly 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow from the storm including Acushnet, Massachusetts with 22 inches (55 centimeters). Boston recorded 13 inches (32.5 centimeters) of new snow. At the easternmost tip of Maine, Lubechad had 2 full feet (60 centimeters).

With many intersections already clogged by soaring snow banks, forces mobilized before the storm to remove piles of snow. Massachusetts called up the National Guard troops to help and Hanscom Air Force base outside Boston became a staging area for heavy equipment pouring in from eight other Northeastern states.

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Lightning and whiteout conditions

Although the storm did not bring the eye-popping snow totals of others this season, it made its presence felt with lightning strikes and strong winds that left visibility close to zero for stretches along the coast.

“Oh my goodness, it’s a whiteout!” said Sue Baker of Lubec, Maine, observing the wind blowing outside her bed and breakfast, the Peacock House.

The Coast Guard said it rescued an Australian father-son sailing team whose boat lost power and had its sails torn in 60 mph (96.5 kph) winds about 140 miles (225 kilometers) southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

In Vermont, the wind was enough to force shut-down of the Lake Champlain ferry cross between Charlotte and Essex, New York.

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Southern snow too?

New Englanders won’t be the only ones with the winter blues, forecasters say. A snow storm could bring 6 to 9 inches (15 to 22.5 centimeters) of snow to parts of Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Freezing rain was forecast for northern Mississippi and 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of snow and sleet will be possible in north Georgia.

The storm also threatened Atlanta, where just over a year ago an ice storm trapped commuters for hours on the region’s freeways.

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TAGS: Boston, Massachusetts, US snowstorms, US weather
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