Another dayslong snowstorm threatens to clobber New England
BOSTON (AP) Winter-weary New England braced Sunday for another round of snow that threatened to bear down on the region into the workweek and pile up to 2 feet in some areas.
As light snow began falling by the afternoon, drivers were warned to stay off the roads and cancellations were posted for schools and court dockets Monday.
The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for central New York, the western Catskills and much of New England through early Tuesday.
"I'm frustrated. The last thing I want to be talking about is another 24 inches of snow. I want to move on to something else," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at City Hall. "It's unprecedented ... Maybe up in Alaska or Buffalo, they have this amount of snow and they're used to it."
Walsh said the city would close schools Tuesday as well, and he urged motorists to stay off the roads until the storm passes. Court closings Monday meant another weather-related delay in jury selection in the Boston Marathon bombing trial and in the murder trial in Fall River of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez.
The snow is likely to cause problems for workweek commuters, though it wasn't expected to accumulate as rapidly as in earlier snowstorms, including a record-busting late January blizzard. It also posed little risk of the coastal flooding that last month's winter blasts brought.
Still the steady run of winter blasts has already sucked up over 70 percent of New Hampshire's Department of Transportation winter maintenance budget. And the next round of snow was already promising trouble Sunday.
New Hampshire State Police closed parts of northbound Interstate 93 in Manchester for hours as tow trucks removed a school bus that lost control on slushy roads and rolled down an embankment. The driver was the only person on board.
The small college town of Henniker, which lost its fleet of plows in a fire Jan. 30, was using plows on loan from the state. DOT spokesman Bill Boynton said the three back-up trucks would probably remain with the town throughout the winter.
While the snow is welcome at New England ski resorts, it's a headache for some businesses.
"I normally have 15 to 20 dogs for day care but that's down to half a dozen; people can't get here," said Bruce Billings, owner of Canine College and Bow Wow Resort, a dog training, day care and boarding center in Holbrook, Massachusetts, 10 miles south of Boston.
Billings said he's trying to clear outdoor play areas with a snow blower because only the biggest dogs can frolic through snow that's 2 to 3 feet deep.
"I love snow. I just hate having to clear it," Billings said.
Boston's transit system, the nation's oldest, has been particularly hard hit this winter. The buildup of snow and ice on trolley tracks combined with aging equipment has stalled trains, delaying and angering commuters. Gov. Charlie Baker acknowledged last week the MBTA was handed an extraordinary situation with old equipment but said the system's overall performance was unacceptable.
Over the weekend, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said crews were doing everything they could, including deploying massive jet-powered snow blowers, to clear tracks before the storm. Baker said Boston's subway lines will operate on an abbreviated schedule Monday and he encouraged residents to work from home and avoid travel. The MBTA said it will try to keep commuter trains on a normal weekday schedule, but delays are likely.
Boston's Logan International Airport will be allowing only a limited amount of flights to arrive and depart Monday so travelers should check with their airlines, Baker said. State offices will be closed Monday, with only emergency workers required to report for duty.
Baker said the "cumulative" impact of the storm is a major challenge, as parts of Massachusetts have already seen over 60 inches of snowfall over two weeks.
In many New England communities, the obvious problem is where to put the new snowfall.
David Lombari, public works director for West Warwick, Rhode Island, said his town was already clogged with piles of snow several feet high and school buses were parked in the usual snow storage lot.
"I don't know what we're going to do yet," Lombari said. "It's tough trying to find a place that meets all the proper (environmental) criteria."
State snow disposal guidelines require that communities use locations that won't harm environmental resources and have barriers that prevent contaminants from seeping into groundwater when the snow melts.
Adding insult to injury, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency warned that potentially record cold temperatures and wind chills are expected to move into the region later in the week.
But not everyone was dreading the next blast of winter.
Business was brisk at Charles Street Supply hardware in Boston, where owner Jack Gurnon sells shovels, salt and sleds. He drove to Portland, Maine, to stock up so he'd be able to meet demand when the storm hits full force.
"We actually have a lot of supply right now, and we're lucky because the big box stores, they're scrambling around, and I'm sitting on a whole bunch right now," Gurnon said.
But an increase in sales isn't all he is looking forward to. "I also love to ski, so as soon as this next mess is over with, I'm taking off and going north," he said.
Associated Press radio correspondent Julie Walker in New York City and AP writer Mary Esch in Albany contributed to this report.