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Boston tied its record for the most snow in a single day — just under 2 feet


Much of the Northeast is digging out this morning from a massive snowstorm. One of the hardest-hit areas was southeastern Massachusetts. The National Weather Service reports Boston tied its record for the most snow in a single day at just under 2 feet. Hannah Chanatry from member station WBUR in Boston has been following the storm and joins us now. Hannah, good morning.

HANNAH CHANATRY, BYLINE: Thanks, Juana. Good morning.

SUMMERS: All right, so can you just start with a recap? Tell us what happened yesterday.

CHANATRY: Well, we got a lot of snow. The National Weather Service confirmed blizzard conditions in Boston and Worcester, as well as several communities further southeast, including Hyannis and Martha's Vineyard. The storm really hit those southeast regions harder than the other parts of the state. The snow was light and fluffy and fell fast. And what really made this difficult for people to respond to was the wind. Parts of the Cape saw near-hurricane-force winds at times. We also saw downed power lines and some road closures from moderate coastal flooding. That flooding has been a real concern here, especially as climate change fuels stronger storms and sea level rise. But yesterday was actually not as severe as previous storms have been.

SUMMERS: OK, well, it still sounds like that had to have been quite an experience for residents there.

CHANATRY: Yeah, you know, for some folks, it was pretty intense. Some communities like Scituate, which is on the South Shore, had actually recommended residents who live on the coast evacuate ahead of the storm. After that, the message was really stay inside. And for the most part, people appear to have complied. I spoke with Shirlee Bresnahan (ph), who recently moved to Mashpee. This was her first storm in her new home. And she says it was the wind that made it impossible to be outside.

SHIRLEE BRESNAHAN: The windows you can't see out of - out of any of the windows in my home. They are completely caked with snow because snow has blown onto them - front, sides and back. Everything is just white.

CHANATRY: Now, Bresnahan was among the lucky Cape residents who did not lose power, but that wasn't the case across much of the region. More than 160,000 homes and businesses lost power, largely on the Cape and South Shore. In fact, for much of the day, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency reported Provincetown, which is on the very tip of the Cape, was completely without power. Now, this morning, we've seen improvements in those numbers, with tens of thousands of customers still in the dark.

SUMMERS: So, Hannah, what's the plan to get the lights back on for those folks? How has the state been reacting?

CHANATRY: Yeah, so the state really prioritized coordinating with local communities and helping them to open emergency shelters for people without heat. The conditions were too dangerous yesterday for utility crews to make a ton of progress on downed wires. So most restoration efforts didn't get underway until the evening and will continue today. Now, the heads of the major utilities also brought in reinforcements to help. About 3,000 people from Eversource alone are working on the Cape this morning, and the National Guard was put on standby.

SUMMERS: Hannah, how are people digging out? What is the focus for today and moving forward?

CHANATRY: Well, the big focus is going to be getting that power back for people who don't have it because today is going to be cold. It's in the teens here, though temperatures should rise by midweek. There's also going to be a lot of time spent clearing roads and checking on vulnerable residents. On the Cape, tribal administrator for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, David Greendeer, says he'll be checking on tribal elders, but it may be a bigger challenge than yesterday.

DAVID GREENDEER: Some people's doors are frozen shut. Communities have been mobilized, so they're trying to shovel, as well, lay down salt, you know, where they can and sand.

CHANATRY: Now, the governor notes that, you know, we're not done with the storm yet. Plows are still working on messy roads, and it will likely take a few days to get everything clear.

SUMMERS: That's WBUR's Hannah Chanatry reporting on the storm. Hannah, thank you.

CHANATRY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hannah Chanatry