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Suprise Boston Storm Knocks Island Cottage Into the Sea

By Annie Linskey and Tom Moroney

March 8 (Bloomberg) -- Defying forecasters’ predictions, a nor’easter stalled over Boston and the surrounding region, sending snowfall totals to more than a foot, closing dozens of schools and pushing one cottage into the surf.

“Nobody along that north-facing coast came through this storm unscathed,” said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. “We are seeing porches that are no longer there, stairs missing. That kind of thing.”

The toppled seaside cottage has become the signature image of this late winter storm. Photographs of the home were featured on local news websites. Television stations are looping coverage of the structure teetering on the edge of a seawall on Plum Island, located 33 miles (53 kilometers) north of Boston.

“It is a load of memories,” said Stephen J. Bandoian, the owner, in a telephone interview from his other home in Hillsboro Beach, Florida. “My child was born and grew up there. I guess it is gone now.”

Boston public schools opened as usual Friday despite dozens of school closings in the surrounding suburbs. Because so many of the city’s 58,000 students stayed home, they are being marked as “constructively present,” so it won’t count against them, according to schools spokesman Lee McGuire. “It’s essentially an excused absence.”

Still Falling

McGuire, who didn’t have an exact tally, estimated the number of children out of school “in the thousands.” He said the call was made to go to school because bus yards were clear in the morning and forecasters had said the snow would stop.

“Then it kept snowing,” McGuire said.

Students who did attend will be excused at normal times and all after-school activities have been canceled, he said.

At noon, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was running its subway, commuter rail, bus and boat routes on a regular weekday schedule, according to the agency website.

Logan Airport was operating and crews were out trying to clear the runways, according to Richard Walsh, a spokesman. Airlines have canceled more than 200 flights into and out of Boston today, and about 275 have been delayed, according to FlightStats.com, an industry data tracker.

The storm stalled because of a high-pressure system blocking it to the north, according to Charlie Foley, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts.

The temperature near the ground also played a big role, said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with commercial forecaster AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

The little accumulation yesterday was due to the temperature that remained above freezing. That changed overnight when it fell below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius) and the snow piled up, Kines said.

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