As next storm looms, state sen. points to 'writing on wall'
Emergency management officials said the storm is expected to bring heavy snow, gusty winds and a storm surge Wednesday afternoon into Thursday morning, raising the possibility of a second wave of power outages, flooding and beach erosion.
Ahead of the impending storm, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency officials will hold a conference call with municipal officials Monday to discuss making emergency repairs to sea walls and other barriers damaged during the weekend's storm and "to ensure preparations for a potential weather system Wednesday night into Thursday," the agency said.
The National Weather Service on Monday forecasted a coastal storm — "a very dynamic system with strong wind fields" — to move into the region late Wednesday, bringing snow and wind overnight and into the first half of Thursday. The service said the potential exists for 6-12 inches of snow, depending on the storm's track.
"Concern with this system is it's March so we are dealing with a heavy wet snow and ... this may result in a risk for down tree branches/limbs yielding the potential for additional power outages," meteorologists wrote.
As of about 2:30 p.m. Monday, more than 56,000 Massachusetts electric customers remained without power in the wake of the long-lasting storm that lashed the coast Friday and over the weekend.
There were 31,479 National Grid electric customers without power as of 2:30 p.m. Monday, with the bulk of the outages clustered in Bristol and Plymouth counties. The utility company said it expects to bring customers on the North Shore back online by 5 p.m. Monday and said it expects to restore power to the South Shore and South Coast by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
National Grid officials are planning to update the status of restoration efforts during a press conference in Scituate at 3:30 p.m. Monday.
Eversource reported 24,614 customers without service as of 2:30 p.m. Monday. Eversource expects to restore power to its customers by 6 p.m. Tuesday.
MEMA is hosting a conference call with municipal officials Monday to provide an update on power restoration efforts and to provide guidance on debris removal. The agency will also begin discussing options for emergency repairs to sea walls, dunes and other coastal barriers with an eye towards a potential snowstorm Wednesday into Thursday.
As of 10 p.m. Friday, after the storm had been walloping the Massachusetts coast for about 12 hours, MEMA reported 449,560 electricity customers without power. The outages were mainly caused by downed trees that damaged the power lines and other distribution equipment. On the South Shore, coastal neighborhoods were washed out and the damage to electricity infrastructure from fallen trees was widespread.
High winds continued into Saturday and Sunday, as well as significant tidal flooding, hampering efforts to quickly restore power, MEMA said.
The severity of the damage to homes, power lines and roadways led Gov. Charlie Baker on Saturday to declare a state of emergency, a designation that remains in effect Monday as the cleanup continues.
"Massachusetts has experienced a destructive storm that brought significant impacts across the state," Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt Schwartz said in a statement Sunday. "MEMA encourages residents to stay safe as they clean up storm damage, return to flooded homes and begin the recovery process."
The damage left behind by the storm led Sen. Marc Pacheco to take to the Senate floor during an informal session Monday to call for action on a bill (S 2196) that would direct key state agencies to develop a comprehensive adaptation management action plan in response to climate change, and then update that plan every five years.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously in November and has been pending before the House Ways and Means Committee since.
"This year, we saw two 100-year storms in a matter of two months. Two 100-year storms in a matter of two months. We had homes under water and almost a half million people in Massachusetts without power, roads were closed and many still are, and people were asked to evacuate," Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat, said. "Public safety officials tell us that the flooding is the worst that they have seen. If there is ever a time to get climate readiness and climate adaptation into statute, it is now."
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.