Four dead, transportation at a standstill, and power out to more than 650,000 homes. That qualifies as a big deal, especially coming just a few months after Hurricane Sandy battered an adjacent region. Boston imposed its first traffic curfew in 35 years yesterday afternoon, threatening anyone who went out on the road with a year in jail and/or a $500 fine. CBS News reports on what they say will become known as “The Great Blizzard of 2013,” and it’s not over yet:
A behemoth storm packing hurricane-force wind gusts and blizzard conditions swept through the Northeast on Saturday, dumping more than 2 feet of snow on New England and knocking out power to 650,000 homes and businesses.
More than 28 inches of snow had fallen on central Connecticut by early Saturday, and areas of southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire notched 2 feet or more of snow — with more falling. Airlines scratched more than 5,300 flights through Saturday, and New York City’s three major airports and Boston’s Logan Airport closed. …
The National Weather Service says up to 3 feet of snow is expected in Boston, threatening the city’s 2003 record of 27.6 inches. A wind gust of 76 mph was recorded at Logan Airport.
The impact of the storm will go far beyond its geographic boundaries:
On “CBS This Morning: Saturday,” Ben Mutzabaugh, a travel writer for USA Today, estimated that close to 6,000 flights would be cancelled by the end of Saturday.
That means traffic snarls across the country. Flights in and out of other airports rely on planes flying from those airports, and a massive shutdown of air traffic in the region will cut into the availability for other routes. If you’re flying from the middle of the country in the next few days, you’d better check to make sure your flight is still scheduled.
How serious is the issue in Boston? The Catholic archdiocese reminded parishioners that their obligation to attend Sunday Mass is secondary to personal safety:
In heavily Catholic Boston, the archdiocese urged parishioners to be prudent about attending Sunday Mass and reminded them that, under church law, the obligation “does not apply when there is grave difficulty in fulfilling this obligation.”
More seriously, any attempt to use transportation is probably too dangerous to consider. Three of the four deaths are traffic-related, and police in New York are now being diverted to help stranded motorists:
Early snowfall was blamed for a 19-car pileup in Cumberland, Maine, that caused minor injuries. In New York, hundreds of cars began getting stuck on the Long Island Expressway on Friday afternoon at the beginning of the snowstorm and dozens of motorists remained disabled early Saturday as police worked to free them. …
At least four deaths were being blamed on the storm, three in Canada and one in New York. In southern Ontario, an 80-year-old woman collapsed while shoveling her driveway and two men were killed in car crashes. In New York, a 74-year-old man died after being struck by a car in Poughkeepsie; the driver said she lost control in the snowy conditions, police said.
It’s a good weekend to stay indoors and watch a movie, read a book, or catch up on Hot Air posts. Be safe.
Meanwhile, CBS asks a question that’s probably on a lot of minds in that region today:
The winter smackdown the Northeast is getting today raises a perennial question for companies facing major weather events: Should employees be allowed to work from home or leave early, or should they tough it out and report to work as usual?
It depends on the job, and the region. In my former career, shutting down the center was not an option, as we needed to monitor burglary and fire alarms 24/7. However, Minnesota also has a lot of infrastructure to keep roads open and power running — we have to, in this part of the country, in order to survive. In almost ten years, I was only tempted to get hotel rooms near the office for key personnel on two or three occasions. It turned out to be unnecessary all three times, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t plan for it.