(Updates with power failure in third paragraph.)
By Annie Linskey, Jim Polson and Brian K. Sullivan
Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Russell Mason pointed to the hole in the side of his yellow seafront home near the entrance to Boston Harbor. That’s where the cellar door was, until the hurricane-force wind gusts of a blizzard slapped it away.
“We get the worst of it,” said Mason, 58, whose neighbor’s furniture bobbed in a pond across the street. “We get the destruction every time.”
The blizzard that lashed the U.S. Northeast beginning Feb. 8 dumped two to three feet (61 to 91 centimeters) or more of snow across New England, breaking records and claiming at least 11 lives. About 126,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island remained blacked out at 7 a.m. local time this morning, according to utility data compiled by Bloomberg, as more snow was predicted today.
“I don’t even want to think about it, to tell you the truth,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said of the forecast for another 1 to 2 inches of snow.
President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Connecticut, freeing federal aid for cleanup. As much as 40 inches of snow fell in Hamden and 36 inches covered train tracks.
“People just need to slow down,” Governor Dannel Malloy said yesterday at a press briefing. He ordered “non-essential” state workers not to come to work today, to help keep roads clear for plows.
Boston got 24.9 inches, the fifth-heaviest snowfall on record, according to the National Weather Service. The record is 27.6 inches set in 2003. Portland, Maine, got 31.9 inches, topping the old record of 27.1 inches set in 1979, said John Cannon, a weather service meteorologist.
National Grid Plc forecast restoration by midnight tonight for all of its 20,000 Rhode Island customers still without power. Full restoration of 20,000 homes and businesses in Norfolk and Plymouth Counties in Massachusetts, south of Boston, may take until midnight tomorrow, according to the London-based utility owner’s website.
NStar, the Massachusetts unit of Northeast Utilities, told customers yesterday to plan for a “multi-day” restoration effort. It had about 85,000 accounts without power this morning.
Wind gusts roared from parts of Long Island to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with an 83 mile (133 kilometer) an hour burst reported on Cuttyhunk Island, near Martha’s Vineyard, at the height of the blizzard.
Mason, whose home in Hull, Massachusetts, was damaged, said the wind rattled his windows with such intensity that he “thought there was a poltergeist” at work.
The hilly seaside town was coated in white snow and ice, and from a distance the homes looked like barnacles clinging to a rock.
“Considering the severity of the storm, we’ve come through this pretty well,” Patrick said yesterday in an interview broadcast by CBS. The governor said he was focused on recovery efforts, including getting Boston’s transit system ready for today’s commuters.
The state’s public transit system shut down Feb. 8 and resumed limited service yesterday. Commuter rail, bus and subway lines were back today, though with some “significant delays,” according to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s website.
The storm had officials and businesses preparing for the worst-case scenario, coming three months after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast with 85-mile-an-hour winds and flooding that killed more than 125 people in 10 states.
The Oct. 29 hurricane ravaged shore communities from New Jersey’s Atlantic City to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Congress completed a $60.2 billion disaster-aid package last month to pay for damages in the storm’s wake.
Sandy and a subsequent snowstorm a week later knocked out power to 8.66 million homes and businesses in 21 states, some for more than a week, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
The blizzard, in contrast, cut power to about 650,000 customers, mostly in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
A new 1 to 2 inches of snow was forecast today across northern Connecticut and central Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service. A freezing-rain advisory was issued for parts of New York, Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut.
The weekend storm was blamed for at least 11 U.S. deaths, the Associated Press reported, including an 11-year-old boy in Boston who was overcome by carbon monoxide as he sat in a running car to keep warm.
In New York City, about 11 inches of snow fell in Central Park and La Guardia Airport got 12 inches, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
In New York’s Long Island, more than 150 cars and trucks were snowbound on roads and highways during the storm. Some drivers stayed put all night while others were rescued.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Long Island was the hardest-hit area of the state, with Nassau County receiving between 12 and 24 inches of snow and Suffolk County more than 30 inches in some areas.
More than a third of the state’s road-clearing equipment and crews were sent to Suffolk County to help open streets and highways before today’s commute, Cuomo said yesterday.
The governor said he had directed some of the state’s utility crews to Connecticut and Massachusetts to help restore services in those states.
The storm arrived days after the 35th anniversary of the “Blizzard of ’78,” which buried Boston in a then-record 27.1 inches of snow and killed 99 people in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Two February blizzards, in 2003 and 2011, surpassed that epic storm’s snowfall, both by less than an inch.