Bizarre blizzard hits Boston area

Halloween snow wreaks havoc in western Mass.

The first snowfall came early this year with an accumulation of 1 inch in Boston and 1–2 inches in Cambridge this past Saturday in a rare October blizzard. The snowstorm dumped over a foot of snow in some parts of western Massachusetts, leaving over 620,000 people without power, mostly in the western part of the state. The outage is ongoing; as of 8 p.m. last night, 450,000 people are still without power in Massachusetts.

Heavy rains started in Boston around 2 p.m. and turned into a heavy snowstorm by midnight.

At MIT’s Pumpkin Drop, students braved slushy conditions and severe winds on Saturday night to watch the annual event. Spotlights shone on the Green Building highlighted the swirling, wet snow, which accumulated on the ground and had MIT’s snowplows out by early Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon, the weather had cleared.

The current record for snowfall in October for Boston is just 1.1 inches, which was set on Oct. 29, 2005. Though Boston did not break its record, many towns in western Massachusetts broke theirs. Worcester broke its record by the largest margin, with 14.6 inches of snow. Plainfield, which did not break its record, saw 30.8 inches; Ashfield had 25.5 inches.

The current outages are so severe that Halloween has officially been postponed by a number of towns in western Massachusetts and multiple school districts have canceled classes. It might be several days before power is restored to most of the state. Governor Deval L. Patrick urged residents without power to remain patient, and Sen. Scott P. Brown tweeted yesterday morning that his power remained out as well.

“This is a house-by-house, branch-by-branch kind of response,” Patrick said at a news conference, reported the Boston Globe.

Patrick declared a state of emergency on Saturday night and called the National Guard to duty yesterday morning. By yesterday evening, approximately 700 guardsmen were posted throughout the state. At least three people have died as a result of the storm, one from a downed power line and another two from a car accident.

The rest of this week should see a return to normal November weather in the mid 50s. See page 2 for the full weather forecast.