BOSTON (AP) — A Valentine’s Day storm bought snow and dangerously high winds to New England for the fourth time in less than a month, the latest blow to a region that has already seen more than 6 feet of snow in some areas.
A blizzard warning was in effect for coastal areas from Connecticut to Maine through Monday morning, promising 8 to 14 inches in southern New England up to 2 feet in Maine. A bone-chilling blast of cold will follow, with lows of minus 10 degrees forecast in some areas Sunday night.
National Weather Service meteorologist William Babcock said road conditions will be dangerous as steady, widespread winds whip the relatively dry snow around.
“On Sunday, the best thing people can do is stay home, stay indoors,” he said.
Babcock said gusts could max out at 75 mph — hurricane territory — on Cape Cod. Officials warned of possible power outages, and north-facing or vulnerable coastal areas could suffer flooding and beach erosion, the National Weather Service said.
The bad weather spanned several states — winter storm warnings extended west into Michigan and Ohio, where whiteout conditions led to a pileup on the Ohio Turnpike that killed at least two people. Another crash involving several tractor-trailers was reported on Interstate 70 just west of Columbus, and a storm-related crash on the New York Thruway south of Buffalo killed one person.
In New England, transportation officials took many precautions. Boston’s Logan International Airport said more than 250 Sunday flights were already canceled, and none was scheduled Sunday morning. And the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority canceled all rail, bus and ferry service in the Boston area on Sunday.
Gov. Charlie Baker urged motorists to stay off roads during the storm, but stopped short of an outright travel ban.
Crews have worked urgently to remove the massive amounts of snow that has clogged streets and triggered numerous roof collapses.
“They’ve been doing a great job as far as sort of removing the snow and relocating the snow to make it look like it’s less, but it’s piled up everywhere,” said John Barry, general manager of Kelly’s Roast Beef in Revere, on Boston’s North Shore. He said the recent tough weather has hurt business, but the restaurant has gotten traffic from snow plow drivers, emergency personnel and “people sort of venturing out to check out the weather.”
At the University of Connecticut, where up to 8 inches of new snow was expected, Gavin Paquette, 25, was part of a 12-man contract crew shoveling snow off roofs Saturday. “There was about an 8-foot snow bank up on the roof,” he said of the school’s football training center. “It’s all wet, heavy snow.”
Paquette says he hasn’t had to shovel roofs for several winters, but this year the job is keeping him in shape. “I’ve lost nine pounds since Wednesday,” he said.
Massachusetts called up hundreds of National Guard troops to assist with snow removal, and the Hanscom Air Force base outside Boston became a staging area for heavy equipment pouring in from eight other Northeast states to help in the effort.
In southern New Hampshire, where up to 18 inches of new snow could fall, employees at a tree service volunteered to clear the snow from the roof of Londonderry South Elementary School. Dave Burl of Accurate Tree Service told WMUR-TV the roof was engineered to hold 44 pounds per square foot, and the weight was approaching 30 pounds per square foot even before the storm.
With the weather promising to show little love on Valentine’s Day, Baker on Friday proclaimed “Valentine’s Week” in Massachusetts and encouraged people to celebrate the holiday by buying gifts and dining out all next week.
Business groups said weather-related travel woes have cut into sales by up to 80 percent for some restaurants and retailers leading up to Valentine’s Day, a holiday that usually generates about $500 million in business.
In Boston’s Financial District, Brian Brosnihan, manager of The Palm steakhouse, said it was all booked up for Saturday dinner, but that could change.
“Now we’re hoping we don’t lose our Valentine’s Day reservations. With the record snowfalls we’ve already had in Boston, people are already anticipating tough parking situations and tough getting around.”