Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Russell Mason pointed to the hole in the side of his yellow seafront home at the entrance to Boston Harbor. That’s where the cellar door was, until the hurricane- force wind gusts of a blizzard slapped it away.
“We get the worst of it,” said Mason, 58, whose neighbor’s furniture was seen bobbing in a pond across the street. “We get the destruction every time.”
The blizzard that lashed the U.S. Northeast beginning Feb. 8 dumped record amounts of snow in parts of New England, killing at least five people and leaving more than half a million homes and businesses in darkness.
Yesterday residents began digging out and patching up. In Boston, traffic was banned while snowplows set to work and pedestrians took over normally traffic-choked thoroughfares. By nightfall, the cars parked in front of Victorian brownstones on Marlborough Street looked like a string of igloos.
In Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy warned commuters that not all Metro-North Railroad commuter lines might be cleared for tomorrow’s commute.
“If there’s a reason you need to be in New York City on Monday, you might want to move yourself there sooner by car,” he said yesterday at a news briefing.
In Hamden, Connecticut, 40 inches (102 centimeters) of snow fell, while Boston had 24.9 inches early yesterday, the fifth- heaviest snowfall on record, according to the National Weather Service. The worst was 27.6 inches in February, 2003. About 613,000 customers from New York to Maine had no power, utilities said.
The storm had officials and businesses preparing for the worst-case scenario, coming three months after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast with 85-mile-an-hour winds and flooding that killed more than 125 people in 10 states.
The Oct. 29 hurricane ravaged shore communities from New Jersey’s Atlantic City to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Congress completed a $60.2 billion disaster-aid package just last month to pay for damages in the storm’s wake.
Sandy and a subsequent snowstorm a week later knocked out power to 8.66 million homes and businesses in 21 states, some for more than a week, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
The blizzard, in contrast, cut power to about 652,000 homes and businesses, most of them in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick lifted a ban on normal traffic west of Interstate 91, a north-south highway crossing the western part of the state between Connecticut and Vermont. He opened roads in the rest of the state at 4 p.m. yesterday. Malloy lifted a similar ban at that time in his state.
Some respected the ban yesterday, trudging by the roadside loaded down with bags of groceries. Others didn’t, and traffic backed up behind small sedans stuck in the snow.
Several coastal Massachusetts towns, including Hull, Marshfield, Weymouth, Scituate, Kingston and Salisbury, were at least partly evacuated ahead of tidal flooding.
Mason, who lives in Hull, said the wind rattled his windows with such intensity that he “thought there was a poltergeist” in his home.
At the nearby Hull police station, Lieutenant Dale Shea warmed up yesterday afternoon after a 12-hour shift. Clearing snow from the roads during the storm was like “shoveling against the tide,” he said.
“With the wind and the snow, you made a pass and then it was like you were never there,” Shea said.
The hilly seaside town was coated in white snow and ice, and from a distance the homes looked like barnacles clinging to a rock.
The Associated Press reported five storm-related deaths in the U.S., including an 11-year-old boy in Boston who was overcome by carbon monoxide as he sat in a running car to keep warm.
In Connecticut, a woman clearing snow was killed by a motorist who didn’t stop, Malloy said at his news briefing. He said the number of stranded cars and trucks on roads in the state was beyond counting.
“One of the biggest problems we are facing is stalled automobiles,” Malloy said. “We are trying to dig them out and tow them away.”
“I still want to urge residents to stay off the roads if at all possible,” the governor said in a statement. “The longer we can keep traffic out of town centers and off of our highways, the more effective our recovery effort will be.”
Wind gusts roared from parts of Long Island to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with an 83 mile (133 kilometer) an hour burst reported on Cuttyhunk Island.
In New York City, only 11.4 inches of snow fell in Central Park and La Guardia Airport got 12.1 inches, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
“It looks like we’ve dodged a bullet,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday at a news briefing. “We think we’re in great shape. We were lucky.”
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.
Portland, Maine, received 31.9 inches of snow, topping the old record of 27.1 inches set in 1979, said John Cannon, a weather service meteorologist in Gray, Maine.
New York’s Long Island had lower winds than forecast, said John Bruckner, president for power provider National Grid Plc. About 7,600 homes and businesses were without electricity by midday. Restoration will probably be completed within 24 hours, said Wendy Ladd, a company spokeswoman.
Entergy Corp.’s Pilgrim nuclear station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, shut down safely during the storm when it lost its outside power supply, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Long Island was the hardest-hit area of the state, with Nassau County receiving between 12 and 24 inches of snow and Suffolk County more than 30 inches in some areas.
“Suffolk has sustained significant damage and significant hardship as a result of the storm,” Cuomo said.
The governor said he had directed some of the state’s utility crews to Connecticut and Massachusetts to help restore services in those states.
The storm arrived days after the 35th anniversary of the “Blizzard of ’78,” which buried Boston in a then-record 27.1 inches of snow and killed 99 people in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Two February blizzards, in 2003 and 2011, surpassed that epic storm’s snowfall, both by less than an inch.
--With assistance from Mark Chediak and Lynn Doan in San Francisco, Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta , Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas, Freeman Klopott in Albany and Karen Goldfarb and Brian Chappatta in New York. Editors: Pete Young, Jessica Resnick-Ault