Northeast digs out, cold moves South

CNN Wire Service

A major winter storm whipped the Upper Midwest early Monday, just after a historic snowfall left much of the Northeast buried and without power.

The latest blizzard dumped up to 8 to 15 inches of snow across parts of seven states, but saved most of its fury for the Dakotas and Minnesota, the National Weather Service said.

Snow showers and blowing snow were expected to linger across the area Monday.

More than a thousand miles to the east, residents of the Northeast spent the weekend digging out from a historic storm that dumped several feet of snow in the region.

In the Southeast, at least 15 tornadoes were reported across southern Mississippi and Alabama Sunday afternoon as a cold front moved in. A large tornado that struck Hattiesburg, Mississippi, caused the most significant damage seen so far, and the Mobile, Alabama, National Weather Service Office is expected to begin conducting damage surveys Monday.

According to Storm Prediction Center reports, nearly 70 people were injured in Sunday’s storms, with at least 61 of those in Hattiesburg.

North begins recovery

By late Monday morning, temperatures were expected to rise well above freezing in New England and rain was possible.

The Boston Globe reported that recovery efforts are in motion, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has dispatched eight rapid assessment teams to look at conditions in coastal communities. The paper reported that thousands of National Guard soldiers are assisting.

“The devastation we have seen here would lead one to believe that it’ll be days before we get power back,” said Jim Cantwell, a state representative for the Massachusetts towns of Marshfield and Scituate, where about 90% of customers were without power late Sunday.

About 200 people were in shelters Sunday in southeastern Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy said. And more than that number found refuge at schools-turned-shelters on the South Shore of Massachusetts, where dozens of National Guardsmen were on the ground to help local authorities and residents deal with flooding and storm damage there.

South takes hit

Severe storms were only one aspect of the extreme weather across the Southeast as heavy rainfall also soaked much of the region. Rain around the slow-moving cold front prompted flood watches and warnings from southeastern Louisiana to central Georgia through Monday and Tuesday afternoon.

It’s possible those states could get three to five inches of rain, according to CNN meteorologists.

The Southeast and Gulf Coast may see severe storms Monday, with heavy rainfall and gusty winds, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Warmer weather — a mixed blessing

The forecast for the days ahead in some of the hardest-hit areas seemed mostly a blessing.

Daytime temperatures were expected to climb into the 40s Monday in much of southern Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where rain may fall as well.

That would help melt some snow, though it could make what’s there even heavier and increase the risk of dangers such as roof collapses. There were reports Sunday of a barn, a sports facility, commercial building and other buildings suffering cave-ins, Malloy said.

The mix was also expected to contribute to a messy Monday morning commute into cities such as Boston, though schools will remain closed there and in many other locales as the snow clean-up effort continues.

There have been notable signs of progress, at least. Flights resumed at Boston’s Logan Airport on Sunday, for instance, and Amtrak resumed limited service as part of its general ramp-up.

“We’re working as hard as we can,” Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee said of efforts in his state, a sentiment echoed elsewhere. “We’re seeing efforts every hour.”.

Lots and lots of snow

The blizzard that struck the Northeast starting Friday was historic by many measures — most of all, by the amount of snow that fell.

Hamden, Connecticut, for instance, received 40 inches, making it difficult for even plows to get out on the roads. CNN iReporter Mia Orsatti said streets there had transformed into “white, wide, soft blanket(s) of snow.”

The tally in Hamden was the most recorded by the National Weather Service in any community, but even lesser amounts led to major headaches, especially when combined with, at times, hurricane-force wind gusts, powerful storm surges and snow drifts that buried cars and almost everything else.

“There’s a ton of snow, and there’s nowhere to put it,” said Lena Berc of Boston, where 24.9 inches fell. “So it’s really frustrating to find nooks and crannies.”

Nine people were killed in accidents related to the storm, including five in Connecticut, two in Ontario, Canada, one in New York and one in Massachusetts. A 14-year-old Boston boy who hopped in a snowed-in family car to get a break from shoveling died as an exhaust pipe blocked by snow led to a buildup of carbon monoxide in the car.

Many still without power

About 270,000 utility customers remained in the dark late Sunday, a significant improvement from the 635,000 without electricity about 24 hours earlier.

These outages were the result of a combination of whipping winds and power lines sagging, and sometimes snapping, under the weight of especially heavy, wet snow and ice.

“There was a phenomenal amount of trees that went down,” Cantwell said, noting that no Scituate residents had power Sunday morning and estimating it may be Thursday before all the lights are back on.

For all the headaches in New England, however, many people were enjoying the wintry conditions.

iReporter Filipe Pereira said students at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, who were set to return to class Monday, had enjoyed the weekend storm, engaging in massive snowball fights and building snowmen everywhere. People were even skiing down one street, he said. Students earlier took a series of photographs tracking the storm over 26 hours.

The streets around the small school were still a mess, but they were no longer closed.

“People have been going all over the roads with no problem,” Pereira said.