CONCORD, N.H. – For the third week in a row, New Englanders are readying for the workweek amid a massive snowfall.
Two weeks ago it was the blizzard, which started on a Monday, raged all day Tuesday and left many schools closed for several days to follow.
Last week it was the Groundhog Day Nor’easter, another early-week storm with most of the snow coming on Monday, once again putting many schools and businesses on hold until midweek.
Now, interstate speed limits have been lowered, schools closed and snow banks are growing as another winter storm hits New England.
Light flurries fell in the morning, but the “long duration” storm is expected to intensify on Sunday night. The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for central New York, the western Catskills and much of New England through early Tuesday.
Boston is expected to take a heavy dusting of snow again, with areas north of the city expected to get up to two feet of new powder.
CBS Boston meteorologist Terry Eliasen reports this time will be different from other storms, as the snow will be slow and steady, but persistent. Snowblowers and plows should have no trouble clearing the way with a methodical and persistent approach. The biggest problem this go around for many New Englanders is where the heck to put all this new snow.
Boston’s transit system, the nation’s oldest, has been particularly hard hit. The buildup of snow and ice on trolley tracks combined with aging equipment has stalled trains in recent days, delaying and angering commuters. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority general manager Beverly Scott said Saturday that crews were doing everything they could, including deploying massive jet-powered snow blowers, to clear tracks before the next storm.
Gov. Charlie Baker acknowledged on Friday that the MBTA was handed an extraordinary situation with old equipment but said the system’s overall performance was unacceptable.
Meteorologist Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, predicts the storm will try the patience of snow plow drivers and the general public with its fits and starts over the next 40 or so hours.
As with the previous two snowstorms, southern portions of northern New England are expected to get hit hardest, with 10-15 inches forecast for southern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Hawley says the heaviest snow will fall late Sunday and overnight into Monday and the storm will move out of the region by Tuesday morning.
“It’s going to be a long 35-48 hours,” Hawley said. “It’ll probably give the plow operators fits. They’re going to have to be at the ready for the next 48 hours. That makes their lives a little bit miserable.”
Hawley said snowfall in northern Vermont and the mountains of Maine will probably total 6-10 inches by Tuesday morning.
The small college town of Henniker, New Hampshire, which lost its fleet of five plows in a town garage fire Jan. 30, is using three plows on loan from the state Department of Transportation. DOT spokesman Bill Boynton said Sunday the three back-up trucks will probably remain with the town throughout the winter.
Boynton said that, as of Friday, the DOT had already spent $30.4 million – just over 70 percent – of its winter maintenance operation budget.
Temperatures are predicted to remain in the teens and single digits throughout the duration of the storm.