Snow, High Winds and Bitter Cold: Valentine's Weekend Brings a Blizzard
Neptune, Valentine's Day Blizzard of 2015, or simply the straw that broke the camel's back. Whatever you call it, we track the storm right here.
Sunday, Feb. 15, 10:35 pm
When it comes to snow totals, the South coast and Plymouth county are the weekend’s winners (if you can call it that):
South Dartmouth 22.8 in
Achushnet 22 in
New Bedford 21 in
Bridgewater 20 in
Fairhaven 18.5 in
West Harwich and Sandwich tied for deepest snow on the Cape, with 12 in each. Oak Bluffs weighs in at 10 in, Nantucket at 9 in.
But, as usual, the picture on the wind front looks a bit different. Nantucket’s peak gust today hit 65 mph, and Hyannis came in a close second at 64 mph. Elsewhere around the Cape and islands, winds hit peak speeds in the mid- to upper-50’s.
Sunday, Feb. 15, 6:00 pm
With the snowfall past, we are now in for a bitterly cold night. The National Weather Service has a Winter Weather Advisory in place until midnight (cold temperatures and blowing snow), and a Wind Chill Advisory posted until 10 tomorrow morning. Overnight temperatures will fall to the single digits, while NW winds continue gusting to 45mph or better. The result? Wind chills as low as -20 from late tonight until early tomorrow morning. Ouch.
What next? Well, we're tracking another storm system shaping up for Tuesday, which seems likely to bring more plowable snow. This is will be a winter to remember.
Sunday, Feb. 15, 3:30 pm
Earlier today, a Cape-based Coast Guard team rescued an Australian father and son from their crippled 43-foot boat, which Petty Officer LaNola Stone told WBZ-TV the men had bought on eBay. The pair left Rhode Island on Friday, headed for Australia.
And then, there's this, from U.S. Coast Guard Northeast:
Sunday, Feb. 15, 3:00 pm
National Grid is having some trouble with its power outage map, and the situation on Nantucket seems to be in flux, with new outages cropping up as others are repaired. From the Inquirer & Mirror:
National Grid was reporting about 940 customers without power at around 1 p.m., the majority in Eel Point, but more than 100 in Sconset, five on Brant Point and five in Madaket, but power was restored to all but a handful by 1:30, before about 200 more lost their electricity around 1:45. Others around the island reported power surges and flickering lights, but for the most part, the power remained on for most of the island as of early afternoon. - See more at: http://www.ack.net/Blizzardconditionsexpected021215.html#sthash.fHk1cxEJ.dpuf
The Town of Nantucket says that number is down to just one customer without power, and has confirmed that a warming shelter remains open at the High School. Also, the Inquirer & Mirror reports that most of the waterfront streets closed by flooding this morning have been reopened, although "parts of Cliff Road and Madaket Road remain closed due to blowing snow." The National Weather Service is currently reporting northwest winds at 31 mph, with gusts to 45 mph, at Nantucket Memorial Airport.
Sunday, Feb. 15, 2:15 pm
The Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee has announced they will not be activating shelters around Cape Cod today. WCAI's Amy Vince spoke with public information officer Kevin Morley about the decision, plus staying inside and off the roads:
Sunday, Feb. 15, 11:40 am
Quick update on power outages: The Provincetown outage was apparently caused by a transformer pole fire. The situation has been addressed and P'town is back online. However, the situation in Dennis has progressed, with 1285 customers currently in the dark. Eversource is also reporting a couple hundred customers without power in Eastham and Orleans.
Power appears to have been restored to all of Nantucket, but Nantucket Police are reporting harborfront street closures due to flooding - Easy Street, and Washington Street between Commercial and Union. And this, from the director of the Nantucket Field Station:
Sunday, Feb. 15, 10:45 am
The power outage situation is rapidly worsening, with more than 5,500 customers in Provincetown and nearly 700 in Dennis without power. Also, more than 200 on Nantucket and about 100 in Sandwich. The Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee has said they will evaluate the situation at noon today and decide whether or not to open shelters this evening. Key factors in that decision will be how widespread outages are, and how long they are expected to last.
Sunday, Feb. 15, 10:05 am
It's possible - just possible - that the unrelenting weather of the past few weeks is getting to even the hale and hearty at the National Weather Service. From this morning's forecast discussion:
- POTENTIAL MIDWEEK STORM SYSTEM MAINLY IN THE FORM OF SNOW - CONTINUED BITTERLY COLD - NO BREAK IN THE WEATHER PATTERN - NEXT CHANCE OF WARMTH: SOMETIME SPRING INTO SUMMER\
I know. A forecast for yet more snow and cold is the last thing you want to see in the middle of a blizzard. The little good news I can offer is that
FORTUNATELY...THE STORM IS PULLING AWAY AND THE BULK OF THE SNOW WILL EXIT EASTERN NEW ENGLAND BY NOON AND PERHAPS LINGERING AN ADDITIONAL HOUR OR TWO LONGER ACROSS THE CAPE AND ISLANDS.
That is not - repeat, not - reason for complacency. High winds will continue to blow snow around, creating very low visibility conditions. Especially near the coast, wind gusts to 50 mph are expected to continue into this evening.
Bitter cold is the other half of the equation. Temperatures tonight are expected to be 20 to 30 degrees below normal, with wind chills 20 to 30 degrees below zero along the coast. Frostbite can occur quickly under these conditions. You can use this frostbite calculator from Wolfram Alphato figure out how long it's safe to be outside.
Sunday, Feb. 15, 9:45 am
Power outages are starting to crop up this morning. Eversource (nee NStar) is reporting nearly 300 customers across Cape Cod without power.
National Grid is reporting one outage affecting a handful of customers on Nantucket.
Sunday, Feb. 15, 7:45 am
Good morning! It's still snowing. No surprise there. Looks like four or so inches out my window, so far. The National Weather Service is reporting 2-3 inches accumulation across much of the Cape, 4-6 inches (with isolated areas of higher accumulations) in southeastern Massachusetts.
In addition to the blizzard warning, the National Weather Service has issued a special statement:
AN INTENSE BAND OF SNOW WITH SNOWFALL RATES OF 2 TO 4 INCHES PER HOUR WILL CONTINUE ACROSS EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS AND RHODE ISLAND THROUGH MID DAY. EXPECT VERY LOW VISIBILITY AND DIFFICULT TRAVEL CONDITIONS AS THIS BAND MOVES THROUGH. UNTREATED ROADS BECOME DANGEROUS QUICKLY. WINDS WILL ALSO INCREASE AS THIS BAND MOVES THROUGH. EXPECT SIGNIFICANT BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW. THIS IS A DANGEROUS SITUATION...TRAVEL IS NOT ADVISED.
Governor Baker has not called for a travel ban, but does ask residents to stay off the roads. In addition to the municipal parking bans and travel cancelations we noted yesterday (scroll down, if you're curious), the Steamship Authority has canceled service today.
Both National Grid and Eversource (formerly NStar) are reporting only scattered power outages at this time.
We're still awaiting word on the coastal flooding and erosion situation. The Nantucket tide buoy is currently showing 1.5 feet of extra water, as high tide approaches. That puts the total water level at about 5 feet, which, as Gene Mahon noted in his newsletter yesterday, is just enough to start seeing flooding of downtown streets. It's still a couple of feet shy of the highest tide during the January blizzard, though.
As for Sandwich, well, there's no tide buoy in Cape Cod Bay; the nearest is Boston. At high tide, the Boston buoy is showing 2 feet of storm surge. We'll keep you updated as we learn more about what that means for Town Neck Beach and nearby residents.
Saturday, Feb. 14, 8:00 pm
Over the past few weeks, anyone who checks the National Weather Service website for weather forecasts has gotten pretty accustomed to seeing the image on the left. That's snow. But the one on the right? That's blizzard conditions, and that's what we're in for tonight.
The fact that the blizzard image is, itself, completely disorienting seems appropriate. As we've already mentioned, the National Weather Service is calling for travel conditions that could become "nearly impossible and potentially life threatening." Stay safe.
Saturday, Feb. 14, 4:20 pm
If you think this storm is inconvenient for you, consider the poor quahogs living in Sandwich’s Mill Creek. The creek, which runs behind Town Neck Beach, became blocked when the last blizzard breached an artificial dune and pushed the sand into the channel. Here's what it looked like a few days later, when Peter Traykovski of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution flew his drone over the area:
The blockage prevents healthy water flow around town quahog beds, prompting officials to close the area for shellfishing. In addition, the clams – which can’t tolerate fresh water for long – found themselves cut off from the ocean. Efforts to restore Mill Creek began earlier this month, but have been delayed by … wait for it … the weather.
In all seriousness, Sandwich’s coastline was hit hard by the January blizzard. There was extensive flooding on Route 6A and several homes sustained significant damage. With high winds gusting to 75 mph, this storm is expected to bring more erosion and home damage. The blockage of Mill Creek could also exacerbate predicted flooding along the back of the marsh during Sunday morning’s high tide.
Saturday, Feb. 14, 3:30 pm
So it begins. Snow is falling, and there are more parking bans to add to the list:
- Fall River: went into effect at noon (sorry for the late notice)
- Wareham: noon Saturday until further notice
- Dartmouth: 6 pm Saturday to 6 pm Monday
- New Bedford: 7 pm Saturday to 11 am Sunday
- Nantucket: midnight Saturday through at least 6 p.m. Monday
The City of New Bedford website has details on the parking ban and available parking lots. If the weather, itself, weren't enough, these parking bans could put a real crimp in the dinner plans of Valentine's Day celebrants. What's your plan?
Saturday, Feb. 14, 12:45 pm
Travel cancellations for tomorrow are piling up in advance of the snow:
- Bus services between the Cape and Boston - both Peter Pan and Plymouth & Brockton - are canceled for Sunday. The last northbound P&B bus from Hyannis will depart at 3:30 pm Saturday, and the last bus from Logain Airport to the Cape will be at 6:45 pm.
- Island Air, Cape Air and Nantucket Air have all canceled Sunday service.
- Hyline Cruises has canceled service for Sunday, but the Steamship Authority has not yet done so.
Also, several towns have announced parking bans, including:
- Tisbury: 10 pm Saturday to 7 am Sunday
- Mashpeee: noon Saturday to 4 pm Monday
- Dennis: 4 pm Saturday to 6 pm Monday
- Provincetown: 4 pm Saturday to 6 pm Tuesday
Of course, if you have to go out, check with transportation providers and your destination to be sure they're open. But the best idea is to just stay put until this storm passes.
Saturday, Feb. 14, 8:30 am
Happy Valentine's Day! It's clear and cold across the region this morning. Call it the calm before the storm. The blizzard warning goes into effect at 7 o'clock this evening and has been extended through early Monday morning. You will not want to be out and about tomorrow.
Worst conditions are expected late Saturday night through Sunday evening. Snow could be heavy at times, with the National Weather Service calling for accumulations of 6 to 10 inches on Cape Cod and Nantucket. With winds of 30 to 50 mph and gusts to 75 mph, blowing snow is predicted to be a significant hazard.
The National Weather Service is using very strong language to caution about the storm: "Travel will become nearly impossible and potentially life threatening due to whiteout conditions and bitterly cold wind chills. Conditions will remain dangerous for travel well into Sunday due to blowing and drifting snow... reduced visibility and dangerously cold wind chills."
Coastal flooding and erosion are likely along the southern coast of Cape Cod Bay Sunday morning and, of course, power outages are a particular concern, given the bitter cold. The Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee announced Friday that they will decide at noon on Sunday whether or not to activate shelters.
In the meantime, you've got a beautiful day to enjoy the sunshine and get ready for (another) storm. Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has a list of tips for preparing for winter storms long enough to keep you busy all day, and then some. Just stay warm!
Friday, Feb. 13, 6pm
Here's a conversation with meteorologist Phil Burt of CapeCodWeather.net. Phil outlines the storm timeline and speaks about the temperature rollercoaster ride that will accompany the blizzard - ranging from possible drizzle to howling winds and wind chills well below zero. Give it a listen:
Friday, Feb. 13, 4:30pm
The NWS has gone to a Blizzard Warning for Cape Cod, the Islands, and the South Coast. This is an upgrade in confidence from the previous Blizzard Watch. The warning is from 7pm Saturday to 11am Sunday. It calls for snow accumulations of 10-14 inches, except on the Outer Cape and Nantucket, where totals of 8-10 inches are forecast.
Additionally, temperatures will plunge into the teens on Sunday afternoon, as winds ramp up, gusting NW up to 75mph. Overnight Sunday into Monday, wind chill values will be as low as 20 below zero.
Friday, Feb. 13, 12pm
Valentine's weekend is bringing a special gift for Cape Cod.
The National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Watch for East Coastal Massachusetts, from Saturday evening through Sunday evening. The forecast as of Friday mid-morning calls for 8-12 inches of snow.
But snow is only one piece of the story. Very highs winds are expected: North winds 30-40mph, gusting as high as 75mph. A Coastal Flood Watch has also been issued from late Saturday night through Sunday afternoon - with particular emphasis on the Sunday mid-morning high tide.
Snow is expected to start Saturday afternoon with flurries transitioning to light snow. Snow, heavy at times, will fall overnight and through Sunday. According toCapeCodWeather.net, Sunday will see high winds (60+mph gusts), heavy snowfall, and temperatures plunging into the single digits by afternoon.
So - here we go again!
Check back with us, as this web post will be updated this afternoon as more current forecast information becomes available. WCAI will be on the air through the weekend, bringing you updates and the latest reports on storm impacts, power outages, and emergency response.
In the meantime,here is link to our Storm Guide, which provides resources for forecasts, updates, and emergency information.