By Jay Lindsay, Associated Press
BOSTON -- A behemoth storm packing hurricane-force wind gusts and blizzard conditions swept through the Northeast overnight, where more than 650,000 homes and businesses in the densely populated region lost power and New Englanders awoke Saturday to more than 2 feet of snow.
More than 34 inches of snow fell in Hamden in central Connecticut, and an 82-mph wind gust was recorded down the coastline in Westport. Areas of southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire notched at least 2 feet -- with more falling. Airlines scratched more than 5,300 flights through Saturday, and the three major airports serving New York City as well as Boston's Logan Airport closed.
Flooding was also a concern along the coast, and the possibility led to the evacuation of two neighborhoods in Quincy, Mass., said Fire Deputy Gary Smith.
All roads were ordered closed Saturday in Connecticut, where the storm made travel nearly impossible even for emergency responders who found themselves stuck on highways. In Maine, officials said numerous vehicles, including several state police cars, were also stuck in deep snow and warned stranded drivers to expect long waits for tow trucks or other assistance.
Even the U.S. Postal Service closed post offices and suspended mail delivery Saturday in New England.
The wind-whipped snowstorm mercifully arrived at the start of a weekend, which meant fewer cars on the road and extra time for sanitation crews to clear the mess before commuters in the New York-to-Boston region of roughly 25 million people have to go back to work. But halfway through what had been a mild winter across the Northeast, it also could mean a weekend cooped up indoors.
A little more than 11 inches fell in New York City, where carpenter Kevin Byrne was using a scraper to dig out his car Saturday and was relieved the storm hadn't hit the city more strongly. He said he'd taken his shovel out of his car and left it at home.
"I wasn't prepared. ... But was anybody prepared? The last two winters have been so mild," he said. "I've been meaning to buy a salt spreader all winter long, but I just kept putting it off."