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Northeastern US Digging Out from Not-Quite-Record Snowstorm

February 2, 2021

BOSTON — People of the northeastern U.S. shoveled themselves out Tuesday after a two-day snowstorm that shut down public transport, canceled flights and closed coronavirus vaccination sites. 

Some bands of snow were still moving through parts of Maine and Pennsylvania in the morning, but the worst was over, with more than 30 inches (76 centimeters) in parts of New Jersey and just a few inches in Boston.

Lara Pagano, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in College Park, Maryland, noted that while several areas in the mid-Atlantic saw measurable snowfall for a few consecutive days, that hasn't shattered such records. For example, she said the most consecutive days with measured snowfall for Washington is four, while the mark is five for New York City and six for Philadelphia.

"While this storm has been a prolonged event, it's not a record-setter in that sense, but it does rank up there pretty high of course," she said.

The sprawling, lumbering storm had already walloped the eastern United States by Monday. More than 17 inches (43 centimeters) of snow dropped on Manhattan's Central Park, and as much as 30 inches (76 centimeters) was reported in northern New Jersey.

High tide caused flooding early Tuesday in coastal areas of Massachusetts, where the storm had already disrupted the second phase of the state's vaccine rollout as a Boston site that was supposed to open Monday for residents ages 75 and older did not; some other mass vaccination sites remained open.

Several areas of Massachusetts were hit with 18-plus inches (45 centimeters) of snow, including the central Massachusetts communities of Fitchburg, Lunenburg and Ashburnham.

Much of southern New Hampshire got about a foot of snow. Parts of northern New Hampshire, where the state's ski resorts and most of the snowmobile trails are, got 9 to 10 inches (22 to 25 centimeters. 

"For the next couple of weeks, the conditions are going to be phenomenal," Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday during an interview on WZID-FM.

In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said the storm forced the postponement of about 10,000 shots and delayed the state's weekly resupply of vaccine, now expected Tuesday. He urged providers that called off vaccination appointments to extend their hours if needed to reschedule the shots by the end of the week.

A state of emergency imposed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy remained in effect Tuesday and the state's six megasites for COVID-19 vaccines were still closed as plow operators faced snow showers and blowing snow. 

The New Jersey State Police reported that as of 7 p.m. Monday, troopers had responded to 661 crashes and come to the aid of 1,050 motorists since 6 p.m. Sunday.

There was also concern about coastal flooding in New Jersey. In a Facebook video posted by Union Beach Police, Keyport Police Chief Shannon Torres and Capt. Michael Ferm were shown rescuing a man who was showing signs of hypothermia in his car from floodwaters.

In Virginia, four firefighters were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not life threatening after their firetruck overturned Sunday on snow-covered roads in Henrico County, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Power outages appeared to be minimal. About 5,000 customers in Massachusetts and about 3,000 in New York were without power Tuesday morning.

In Pennsylvania, authorities said a 67-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease who reportedly wandered away from her home was found dead of hypothermia on an Allentown street Monday morning. 

About 60 miles (97 kilometers) north in Plains Township, a shooting after an argument over snow removal killed a married couple, and the suspect was later found dead at his nearby home of a wound believed to have been self-inflicted, officials in Luzerne County said.

A preliminary investigation indicates the people involved had a long-running conflict, but "this morning, the dispute was exacerbated by a disagreement over snow disposal," District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said.

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