/ Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff / January 3, 2014
A powerful nor’easter that brought what Governor Deval Patrick called a “mixed blessing’’ of powdery snow accompanied by dangerously cold temperatures was steadily becoming a memory this afternoon, leaving behind more than two feet of snow and causing some flooding along the Massachusetts coastline.
Boston is expected to reach zero degrees tonight, just four degrees shy of the city’s record low for the date, set on Jan. 4, 1981, and officials are warning the public to protect themselves from a wave of arctic air that will dominate the region on Saturday.
“The city itself probably won’t break that record, but it will be close,” said National Weather Service meteorologist William Babcock. “It’s doesn’t negate the fact that it will be cold, and the wind will make it even colder.”
At an afternoon briefing, Patrick said the state weathered the storm without any serious injuries or fatalities, minimal power outages, and just one emergency evacuation, that of a family from Duxbury forced from their home by the noon high tide.
He said that the lack of power outages was likely the result the powder-like snow which, in turn, was the result of single digit temperatures.
“It’s a mixed blessing,’’ Patrick said of those two components of the long duration storm. “The temperature is what makes the snow so light, but the temperature so extreme that it’s a hazard of a different kind.’’
The National Weather Service has issued a wind child advisory that will remain in effect until 9 a.m. Saturday. Such an advisory is issued when wind chill is expected to hover between minus 15 degrees and minus 24 degrees for at least three hours.
Signaling the wind down from the storm, the city of Boston announced this afternoon that the snow emergency and parking ban will be lifted as of 5 p.m. today. Newton also canceled its snow emergency.
The MBTA, which experienced some delays this morning because of mechanical and signal problems, urged commuters this afternoon to check the agency’s website prior leaving to avoid waiting in the cold.
Traffic around the region was slowed throughout the day as thousands of snow plows worked to clear main thoroughfares and smaller roads. They were helped by the fact that many workers, including state employees, stayed home today.
Flooding became a major concern during today’s noon high tide, with officials expressing particular concern for for towns on the South Shore and Cape Cod, especially Sandwich. A coastal flood warning will remain in effect until 3 p.m. today.
Fears about flooding had been especially high in Situate. As high tide rumbled in, water streamed over the town’s seawall and collecting in roadways, causing several streets to be blocked off by police.
The long-duration storm dumped 10.6 inches of snow in Boston on Thursday, setting a new record for the day that has been in place since 1904 when the city received 8 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
Essex County on the North Shore was hit hard by the snow storm with Boxford reporting 24.3 inches, and Topsfield has 23.5 inches.
Powerful wind blasts — a 65-mile-per-hour gust was reported in Hyannis — were also part of the potent weather system. No major power outages were reported by late this afternoon, officials said.
Logan Airport, which has continued to operate throughout the storm, had two runways operating this morning, said Ed Freni, director of aviation operations for Massport. By this afternoon, all runways were open, and the volume of flights steadily increased through the day as airlines restarted their regular schedules.
“The right thing [for travelers] to do now is call their airline, check on the status of their flights,’’ he said.
Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey said some 3,400 pieces of snowplowing equipment were at work, and that the highway crews have generally been successful in pushing the snow off the roads. But he cautioned that with temperatures hovering near zero — and colder — in most of the state, roads can be icy.
But salt has no effect on roadways once temperatures drop below the 20s, he said. “The roads are likely to be slippery,’’ he said.
Overall, Davey said, the morning commute was light.
“I think we are fortunate that this was a Friday’’ at the end of the Christmas and New Year holiday, Davey said. “If this had been next Monday, I think it would have been much more of a challenge for sure.’’
State offices and most schools and universities were closed. The state court system, which originally planned to open at noon today, did not open today.Continued…