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Boston Buried by Nemo

Nemo Closes Schools, Public Transit

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 23:02


On Friday, Boston was hit with one of the biggest blizzards in recent history. Winter storm Nemo dropped a record 24.9 inches of snow on the greater Boston area, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents snowed in and without power. The city worked tirelessly to restore public transportation and clear roadways of the historic accumulation of snow.

In preparation for the storm, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino urged Bostonians to stay off the roads. “This is going to be a very serious storm,” said Menino in a press release concerning city preparations last Thursday. “Safety is our number one priority. I want to stress that the best thing everyone can do Friday and Saturday is to stay home.”

All public schools in Boston had been cancelled by Thursday evening to encourage parents to stay home, and many businesses closed for a long weekend or stayed open for only half the workday on Friday. On Thursday night, Menino also instituted a parking ban that went into effect at noon on Friday.

Boston’s Public Works crew boasted a fleet of more than 600 active pieces of snow clearing equipment.

“Our teams are working around the clock before, during, and after storm to clear our roads and keep our residents safe,” Menino said in another press release on Friday. “We want to give residents a look at what’s being done on their behalves, and this technology takes them right into the command centers of our public works yards.”

The mayor announced the timely launch of SnowOps Viewer, a website which shows the location of all public and private plows, available at cityofboston.gov/snow. Another new technology which helped Boston residents stay informed during the storm is ALERT Boston, which keeps residents informed about the weather and other emergencies via text message or email.

As snow began to fall heavily during the day, transportation became increasingly dangerous for those still on the roads. The MBTA shut down all train, subway, and bus service at 3:00 p.m. on Friday as snow began to accumulate on above ground tracks. Logan Airport began to cancel flights as early as Thursday evening, and cancelled more than 6,000 total flights over the course of the weekend. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick issued an Executive Order at 4:00 p.m. that banned all motor vehicles excluding necessary workers from being on the roads in the state of Massachusetts. Those who did take to the roads risked fines and possible jail time. Many Bostonians chose to snowboard, sled, and ski on the city’s carless streets.

Boston residents, especially college students, took advantage of the long weekend void of school, work, or responsibilities. On Friday night, more than 2,000 Boston University students attended a massive “Snowbrawl” on the Esplanade, organized through a mass Facebook event.

The large number of attendees, however, led to an intervention by the Boston Police Department as the snowball fight soon turned violent. Allegedly, some students were detained for throwing snowballs at police and for fighting. The police effectively brought the Snowbrawl to an end late Friday evening.

Most of the snowfall ceased by late Saturday morning, leaving Boston residents to shovel themselves out from more than two feet of snow. The 24.9-inch snowfall total made Nemo the number five Boston-area snowstorm in terms of inches of snowfall, according to the National Weather Service. Power outages left more than 400,000 residents in the dark on Saturday across the state of Massachusetts.

Plowing crews spent most of the day Saturday working to clear streets and restore power to the residents of Boston.

“Our number one priority today is getting to the side streets,” Menino said of the cleanup effort in Sunday’s update to the Boston media. “Residents have been very patient as we work to recover from the fifth largest snow storm to ever hit the city of Boston. We are doing everything we can to get additional pieces of equipment into residential areas, including coordinating with MEMA to get federal and state resources. As our crews work, I’m urging drivers to continue to stay off the roads.” The city’s equipment was augmented by 40 additional pieces of equipment from MEMA, 30 pieces from Vermont and seven pieces from local contractors Mario Susi & Son, Inc.

The motor vehicle travel ban was not lifted by Patrick until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, and the MBTA remained closed all day Saturday and into Sunday as crews used plows and other equipment to clear the tracks. Logan airport was the last major Northeast airport to clear runways and reopen, sending their first flights out around 11 p.m. on Saturday evening.

Many Boston residents spent another day enjoying their personal winter wonderland, including ambitious residents who attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s biggest snowball fight in the Boston Common. The fight began at noon on the corner of Beacon Street and Charles Street and had an impressive turnout, but fell short of the record by a few thousand people.

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