Blizzard packed a wallop

Blizzard conditions expected throughout the day.

10

Updated Jan. 30

Eversource is chipping away at power outages on the Island Sunday. After more nearly 3,000 customers were without electricity at the height of Saturday’s blizzard, a little more than 800 customers remain in the dark as of 11:45 am Sunday — the bulk of them on Chappaquiddick.

All across the Island, folks are emerging from their houses to clear driveways, sidewalks, and vehicles. There are quite a few people enjoying the fresh coating of snow at Tashmoo with sleds.

Islanders woke up Saturday morning to snow and heavy winds. Snow began falling late Friday night and accumulated throughout the day on Saturday. The National Weather Service reported that Martha’s Vineyard is one of the places where the storm was officially a blizzard — a combination of high winds, snow, and low visibility.

In a bit of good news, the Steamship Authority sent out an alert just before 8 pm Saturday that ferry service would be restored  on Sunday. However, the SSA canceled its morning crossings of the MV Nantucket for “unforeseen” reasons. SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll told The Times it was a “crewing issue.”

At about 5 pm Saturday, Edgartown sent out a text alert that Eversource did not think it could restore power to Chappaquiddick on Saturday night. “The Chappy Ferry is going to run regular service between now and 6 pm today,” the alert stated. Any trips after 6 pm will be weather/tide dependent. The Edgartown School gym is opening as an overnight shelter at 6 pm. The Chappy Fire Station is opening at 5 pm as a temporary warming center but space is very limited.”

Just after 6 pm, Edgartown extended the ferry service from Chappy through 7 pm and then reported that ferry service would be on its normal schedule.

Some rode the storm out at local hotels, rather than taking a chance of getting stranded on long dirt roads.

The Mansion House is at full capacity with a mix of Islanders, Eversource employees, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital employees, and those who got stuck on-Island during the storm.

Christina Christensen, a caretaker, said she booked a room for her and her client at the Mansion House ahead of the storm.

“All of Vineyard Haven is without power, Christensen said at 12 pm. “The hotel shares a grid with the hospital so there’s some hospital staff here, dozens of Eversource workers. We met a couple of guys that were here from Chappy with their dog.”

The Edgartown Police reported School Street was closed from Norton to Cooke because a tree had fallen on power lines.

Edgartown Police also reported that Chappaquiddick Road was closed until further notice. “We have several downed wires between both ends of Litchfield Road,” the post states. “Litchfield Road remains open at this time. We suggest that our Chappy residents stay home and off the roads. Eversource is aware of the issue, but repairs will take time.”

Meanwhile, there was extensive flooding near Memorial Wharf in Edgartown.

In Oak Bluffs, Lake Avenue near the Summer Camp Hotel was closed because a downed utility pole had sparked a fire, according to a social media post by the Oak Bluffs Police.

In Vineyard Haven, a large sailboat either broken free or dragged its mooring and was aground.

Gov. Charlie Baker and local public safety officials urged motorists to stay off the roads. While there are some people out this morning, both Beach Road and Skiff Avenue in Vineyard Haven are closed.

There were a flurry of cancellations.

Early Friday morning, the winter storm watch turned into a blizzard warning for Dukes County and all of southeastern Massachusetts from 7 am Saturday through 5 am Sunday. Some of the predictions are ominous in the amount of snow that could fall. The National Weather Service is predicting up to two feet of snow for the Island.

It’s going to be a high impact weather day for sure on Saturday,” Rodney Chai, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Norton office, told The Times. “The key message is to keep monitoring the forecast.”

Wind gusts could reach 70 mph, Chai said. “There’s pretty high confidence we’ll see strong winds,” he said.

Coastal flooding is also a concern, particularly with the afternoon high tide on Saturday, Chai said.

The storm has the potential to knock down trees causing power outages.

In an email to The Times, Eversource spokesman Christopher McKinnon wrote that additional crews are being deployed to the Island ahead of the storm to deal with power outages. In a release, Eversource reminds customers to stay away from downed lines and report them to 911. Outages can be reported at  Eversource.com, or by calling 800-592-2000. Customers who signed up for the company’s two-way texting feature can send a text to report an outage and receive outage updates as they happen.

Indeed some of those crews were staged at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum parking lot, according to a social media post. “We had some special visitors all the way from Maine yesterday,” the museum post states. “We loaned our parking lot to Larkin Enterprises who is on Island to assist Eversource with winter storm preparation and recovery. A visit to MVM is always a good idea! Our sincere thanks all those who work hard to keep us safe and warm during this snowy New England weather.”

Seas will also be a problem because of the strong sustained winds, Chai said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard First District issued an alert warning of that offshore seas could reach 25-to-30 feet causing dangerous conditions for mariners. In bays and sounds, seas could reach 5 to 10 feet, the release states.

“The Coast Guard’s First District is urging the public to exercise extreme caution and strongly advising boaters against operating in these adverse weather conditions,” the release states. “Significant weather can degrade and delay the Coast Guard’s response time, so it is important for the public to take every precaution necessary to preserve their own safety.”

Boat owners are also advised to secure mooring lines for vessels that have not been removed for the winter.

Meanwhile, those rough seas have forced the Steamship Authority to cancel all crossings to and from the Vineyard on Saturday.

Island police departments also warned Vineyarders to be prepared for the storm. West Tisbury Police issued an alert on their Facebook page urging folks to stay at home so the roads can be cleared. “An additional consideration if we are getting high winds and drifting snow is to make sure you clear around exhaust vents on the outside of your house,” the post states.

Then they had a little fun. “Stay tuned and don’t forget your French toast supplies,” the post states, a nod to the New England tradition of rushing to supermarkets to get bread, milk, and eggs ahead of a storm.

In Tisbury, the town sent out an email alert reminding residents of the town’s sidewalk shoveling bylaw. Anyone with a property that abuts a sidewalk is required to remove the snow within four hours of the snow stopping or face fines beginning at $50, according to the bylaw. A parking ban is also in effect for Tisbury beginning Friday at 8 pm through Sunday at 6 am.

Karen Tewhey, executive director of Harbor Homes Martha’s Vineyard, told the Times a shelter will be open at 5 pm Friday at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. The shelter will remain open all day on Saturday and will remain open on Sunday until the snow abates. 

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. A blizzard or a nor’easter both are fun to be in when you do not have to go anywhere. These words were always something to look forward to but a bombogenesis which seems to be used more these days now that sounds scary. One thing for sure we have a Wicked Big Stawm Coming.

  2. Thank you to those Eversource crews who work in the worst, most dangerous conditions to keep us warm and safe!

  3. Cheers to our Eversource crews for getting power back so quickly in horrible circumstances on Saturday.

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