'Snowmageddon' King: Record snowfall, 'Deflategate' top list for Bay State stories of 2015
BOSTON — Blame Mother Nature — or, if you prefer, Old Man Winter — for Massachusetts' top story of 2015: the relentless blizzards that pummeled the state.
Back-to-back storms dumped a total of 110.6 inches of snow — more than 9 feet — on Boston. That shattered the previous season record of 107.6 inches set in 1995-96.
So much fell on the city that the last snowbank — a vile pile laden with garbage — didn't vanish until mid-July. The storms claimed 25 lives, cost an estimated $400 million in damage and cleanup, and took a $1 billion bite out of the state economy in lost business and productivity.
Other buzz-making stories in Massachusetts in 2015:
• A federal jury convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of all 30 counts against him, including using a weapon of mass destruction, and sentenced him to death for the 2013 bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.
• Former New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2013 shooting death of semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.
• The Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 28-24, to win their fourth Super Bowl, and quarterback Tom Brady became enmeshed in Deflategate — the still-simmering scandal over underinflated footballs used in New England's AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
• To great fanfare, the U.S. Olympic Committee chose Boston as its bid city for the 2024 games — only to see local support collapse in spectacular fashion within months amid spirited opposition from opponents resisting any use of taxpayer money to help defray the costs. The USOC unceremoniously dropped Boston in favor of Los Angeles.
• Boston's public transit system, the nation's oldest and fourth-busiest, was laid to waste by the blizzards, which exposed decades of neglect. Angry commuters left stranded or badly delayed lashed out, and officials scrambled for a fix as the MBTA struggled to close a nearly quarter-of-a-billion-dollar deficit.
• Massachusetts rolled the dice and jumped into the casino game, opening Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, the state's first slots parlor. Its initial payoff was disappointing, stoking fears that gambling companies were oversaturating an already crowded market in southern New England.
• Dozens of women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct fating back decades against Bill Cosby. Scores of venues canceled shows, and colleges and universities revoked honorary degrees given to Cosby, who has denied the allegations and has not been charged with a crime.
• The body of a doe-eyed 2-year-old girl washed up in a trash bag on a Boston Harbor beach, prompting a monthslong effort to identify her through emotionally charged TV spots and highway billboards. Authorities eventually identified her as Bella Bond and charged her mother's boyfriend with murder and her mother as an accessory.
• Rampant opioid addiction and a rapidly mounting toll of fatal overdoses continued to ravage Massachusetts, prompting a fresh crackdown by Gov. Charlie Baker and state lawmakers. The crisis was sure to dominate the legislative agenda in 2016.