Northeast slowly recovering from hard-hitting blizzard
Travel eased and life slowly returned to normal for most New Englanders after a massive blizzard, but many remained without power in cold and darkened homes and a forecast of rain brought a new worry: Weight piling up dangerously on roofs already burdened by heavy snow.
The storm that slammed into the region with up to 3 feet of snow was blamed for at least 15 deaths in the Northeast and Canada, and brought some of the highest accumulations ever recorded.
Still, coastal areas were largely spared catastrophic damage despite being lashed by strong waves and hurricane-force wind gusts at the height of the storm.
Hundreds of people, their homes without heat or electricity, were forced to take refuge in emergency shelters set up in schools or other places.
Utility crews, some brought in from as far away as Georgia, Oklahoma and Quebec, raced to restore power to more than 220,000 customers — down from 650,000 in eight states at the height of the storm. In hardest-hit Massachusetts, where some 180,000 customers remained without power Sunday, officials said some of the outages might linger until Tuesday.
Driving bans were lifted and flights resumed at major airports in the region that had closed during the storm.
The Boston-area public transportation system, which shut down Friday afternoon, partially resumed subway service and some bus routes Sunday.
Boston recorded 24.9 inches of snow, making it the fifth-largest storm in the city since records were kept. The city was appealing to the state and private contractors for more front-end loaders and other heavy equipment to clear snow piles that were clogging residential streets.
On eastern Long Island, which was slammed with as much as 30 inches of snow, hundreds of snowplows and other heavy equipment were sent in Sunday to clear ice- and drift-covered highways where hundreds of people and cars were abandoned during the height of the storm.
The National Weather Service was forecasting rain and warmer weather in that region today — which could begin melting some snow but also add considerable weight to snow already piled on roofs, posing the danger of collapse.
Of greatest concern were flat or gently-sloped roofs and officials said people should try to clear them — but only if they could do so safely.
Officials continued to warn of carbon monoxide dangers in the wake of the storm.