In a series of bulletins the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) kept the public up to date during the snow storm on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Cape Cod and eastern Plymouth County. While the rest of the commonwealth experienced a winter storm, the Cape and Islands weather was officially described as a blizzard. The total accumulation in Vineyard Haven was 12.2 inches and parts of West Tisbury saw 10 to 12 inches on the ground. Yesterday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m. winds were gusting to 52 mph on Nantucket, 46 mph in Woods Hole, and 45 mph at Aquinnah.
Snow began falling just after noon in Oak Bluffs, and by 3:30 p.m. MEMA was reporting that 4 inches of snow had fallen on Martha’s Vineyard during the previous hour. Snow was falling on the Cape during the afternoon at the rate of 1 to 2.5 inches per hour.
At 7 p.m. on Saturday MEMA was reporting that 13.5 inches of snow had already fallen on Oak Bluffs. (By comparison, the North Shore town of Hamilton had received only 5.8 inches.) On the morning of Jan. 8 an observer in Edgartown reported only 8 inches of accumulation to the NWS in Taunton, and the deepest accumulations after the storm — 19 inches — were reported from Plymouth, with from New Bedford, Dartmouth, and Acushnet seeing 16 to 16.5 inches and lower Cape locations collecting around 14 inches.
Police in Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury, and Aquinnah responded to phone calls from The Times on Saturday afternoon and reported no storm related road closures or traffic bans. In Tisbury, the town proactively closed Main Street at noon in order to assist in snow removal. By 5 pm, according to Tisbury police, the closure had been extended up Spring Street to William Street and up Union Street to Water Street. A town-wide parking ban was also instituted.
In email releases leading up to and during the storm, Chuck Cotnoir of Dukes County Emergency Management relayed forecasts by the National Weather Service in Taunton, which in hindsight were impressively accurate. A blizzard warning went into effect in late morning on Jan. 7 and continued until 3 am early Sunday morning. On Saturday morning the National Weather Service in Taunton predicted 12 to 16 inches of snow would accumulate in southeastern Massachusetts with some areas to see has much as 18 inches. True blizzard conditions — high winds (over 35 mph) combined with falling and drifting snow — were due between 4 and 10 p.m.