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Blizzard Batters Northeast With Heavy Snow, High Winds


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. A winter storm in New England has dumped more than two feet of snow and left 650,000 homes and businesses without power. Right now, authorities are closely watching the shoreline as huge waves from the powerful storm cause flooding. High tide hit a bit earlier today. NPR's Jeff Brady has been monitoring developments from Boston and he joins us now. Jeff, thanks for being with us. What can you tell us?

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Well, you know, we're seeing some really big waves. The National Weather Service reports waves off the coast up to three stories high. And some of those waves are making it to the shore and there are even reports of homes being flooded. There are some mandatory evacuations in place, including in Salisbury, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts National Guard has about 3,000 troops in the area of biggest concern. That's from Hull, Massachusetts, on the tip of Cape Cod, all the way around to Sandwich on the southwest side of Cape Cod Bay. Major General Scott Rice talked at a press conference a short time ago. Here's what he had to say:

MAJOR GENERAL SCOTT RICE: We're definitely seeing some major beach erosion happening right now, particularly, as we said, from Hull to Sandwich. There's that wind and the surge and the high tide is all the perfect situation to move that beach down in a place we don't want.

SIMON: Jeff, what's it look like there in Boston? And I wonder if you've been able to talk to anybody.

BRADY: Yeah. I am in the Old Harbor area. That's just south of downtown Boston. Still snowing, not quite as hard as it was earlier this morning. That snow's going to kind of slowly taper off as the bands of snow kind of move out over the ocean. But the snow that's coming down is adding to what are already big drifts outside. Here in Massachusetts, there's still a road travel ban in place, so not many people on the roads. I was able to get out to Cappy's Convenience Store in the Dorchester neighborhood. That's south of downtown Boston. Chad Hassey was there picking up some energy drinks. He said that those would help power him through all the snow shoveling he'll have to do today.

CHAD HASSEY: I was looking at, like, the top 10 storms in Boston and five of them have been since '81 - since I've been alive. So, it's just - I think of it as a lot of fun just getting to hang out with my girlfriend, my brother and his fiancee. And just, you know, the only hard part is shoveling.

SIMON: Now Jeff, Mr. Hassey mentioned those top 10 storms. And I'm wondering how this one might measure up against the others right now.

BRADY: This storm certainly could set some records. We're already seeing one record set up in Portland, Maine. Central Connecticut got 28 inches. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire already seeing totals more than two feet. In Boston, the biggest storm ever on record was just after Valentine's Day in 2003, 27.6 inches. So, we might see a new record here.

SIMON: Hundreds of thousands of people, as we noted, across New England have lost electrical power because of the storm. Still snowing, as you note, and I wonder if crews are able to get out and make repairs.

BRADY: You know, most of the outages are in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It's been difficult for crews to get to some of the problem areas just because there's so much snow on the ground. So, those plows have to get out there and clear away for them. They have a big job ahead of them. And not just fixing neighborhood utility wires that are down but there are also major transmissions lines that account for a lot of the outages. That also contributed to a problem at the Pilgrim Station Nuclear Plant. It lost power and that prompted the facility to automatically shut down last night. Authorities there say they have backup generators there. So, it's still safe and they say that there's no danger.

SIMON: Crews coming from all over the country too, I gather.

BRADY: Oh, absolutely. Driving up here from Philadelphia, I saw not just utility trucks but some of those tree trimmers. There are going to be a lot of trees down from this storm. I saw convoys of those trucks headed this way. And I noticed one of them that I saw was coming in from Kentucky.

SIMON: NPR's Jeff Brady in Boston. Thanks so much.

BRADY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.