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Snowstorm blankets southern New England


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Snowstorm blankets southern New England

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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.

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.

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 and urged residents and visitors to stay off the roads -- whether they traveled by foot or car. He said it was simply too dangerous with the whiteout conditions.

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

Logan Airport reported zero visibility at times, but remained open, along with T.F. Green in Warwick, R.I. Delta Airlines, however, canceled all flights to and from both airports, and other airlines were experiencing delays and cancelations.

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

The National Weather Service reported more than 21 inches of snow in the Hartford, Conn.-area. More than a foot fell in Springfield, 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, Mass.

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.

Karen Gulley of Mansfield, Mass., took her two young children to Boston to visit the New England Aquarium, but their plans changed to snowman-building because of the storm.

"It's their favorite thing to do," Gulley said.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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