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Blizzard Of '06 Blasts Into Southern New England

POSTED: 12:09 pm EST February 12, 2006
UPDATED: 1:48 pm EST February 13, 2006

Across Southern New England Sunday, heavy snow and whipping winds had most people huddled in their homes rather than enjoying the first major winter blast of the season. Church services were canceled, flights delayed and parking bans were in effect across the region.

NBC 10 Weather Plus Chief Meteorologist Gary Ley reported that blizzard conditions were observed at T.F. Green Airport from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Accumulations ranged from about 9 inches in the Westerly area to 15 inches in northwestern Rhode Island.

Plows and salt spreaders worked overnight preparing for the Monday morning commute. State and local officials said most major roads were cleared for rush hour. Many side roads remain snow-covered.

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Video: Region Digs Out From Weekend Storm

On Sunday, Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri declared a state of emergency, as blizzard conditions settled across the area. Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered officials to open the state emergency operations center at the state Armory in Hartford to coordinate state and local efforts.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino canceled school for Monday. A spokesman for the mayor said that the parking ban in Boston will be lifted for the morning commute. A blizzard whacked the city with more than a foot of snow. Flakes that started falling at about 3 a.m. Sunday had stopped by early evening.

Gusty winds created snow drifts of more than 3 feet in some areas and low visibility meant tricky conditions to navigate.

Logan International Airport reported zero visibility at times Sunday, but remained open, along with T.F. Green Airport. Delta Air Lines, however, canceled all flights to and from both airports, and other airlines were experiencing delays and cancellations.

In Boston, MBTA commuter and subway trains operated on a normal schedule, but many buses used different routes to avoid hills and narrow roads.

Amtrak said it has modified its Northeast Corridor schedule for Monday because of the snow. The railroad said at least hourly service would be maintained despite some cancellations. Amtrak said all planned operations will be subject to delays, which are expected to diminish as the day goes on.

Six Acela Express and Metroliner trains were canceled in their entirety, with passengers directed to other Acela Express trains and Amtrak Regional Service trains on modified schedules.

Nine Regional Service trains were canceled in their entirety, with passengers directed to other Regional Service trains. Nevertheless, much of the Boston-Providence-New York City-Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington-Richmond-Newport News service continues, Amtrak said.

Passengers should call (800) USA RAIL or check the Amtrak Web site for the latest service updates.

The National Weather Service reported more than 21 inches of snow in the Hartford, Conn.-area. More than a foot fell in Springfield, Mass., and the Providence area saw at least 7 inches by late morning. Boston recorded about 13.5 inches by Sunday evening. Outer Cape Cod and Nantucket were getting a mix of sleet and snow with winds up to 60 mph.

In the coastal town of Chatham, there was minor flooding around high tide. The docks were under water and water lapped into the parking lot at the Chatham Fish Pier. Most of the town's commercial fishing fleet had taken refuge in protected harbors.

Roads along the Cape were mostly empty throughout the height of the storm, with the exception of plows. Stores also were closed.

"When you get suckered into a nice January with relatively mild temperatures, you think this isn't possible. But clearly it is," said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton.

Heeding the advice of officials who warned of whiteout conditions on many roads, few people ventured out into the storm if they didn't have to.

"If this were a Tuesday, we might be dealing with all sorts of trouble. But thankfully, residents can stay inside and just watch the white stuff from their windows -- and that's what we want them to do," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Depite delays and cancellations, for some the first major storm of the season was a welcome sight.

Karen Gulley, of Mansfield, said her plans to visit the New England Aquarium with her two young children would have to change because of the storm. At their hotel in Boston, she said the children would now build a snowman. "It's their favorite thing to do," Gulley said.

Cindie Fitzgerald, director of guest services at Wachusett Ski Resort in central Massachusetts said Sunday's snowstorm was "what we've all been waiting for" after an unseasonably mild January.

But Dave Allison and Beth Todzia were less-than-thrilled as they stood inside a Dunkin' Donuts in Boston and watched the snow rip past the window. They had come to Massachusetts from southern Connecticut for an early Valentine's Day getaway, but their plans changed to "trying to figure out how to get home," Allison said.

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