A giant storm named Nemo brought Gloucester, Cape Ann, all of Massachusetts and much of New England to a virtual halt Friday, forcing landmark road closings, shutting down schools and businesses and spurring widespread road and utility repair efforts.
And more is expected today, with officials and coastal residents wary of a dangerous storm surge expected to accompany this morning’s high tide.
The storm — named by the National Weather Service, which now names winter storms that can rival hurricanes in terms of punch —coincides with the infamous and deadly Blizzard of 1978, which hit New England 35 years ago this week. And, as of Friday night, it already rivaled that storm in at least one aspect: the executive order by Gov. Deval Patrick, which banned all non-essential vehicles from all of the state’s roadways by 4 p.m. And the travel ban is the first such statewide order issues since the February 1978 blizzard, which paralyzed much of Eastern Massachusetts for days.
The storm was, as of late Friday, projected to bring a total of up to two feet of snow to Cape Ann, with now expected to fall at up to four inches per hour during the height of the blizzard expected to roar through the region overnight. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects 6-10 inches of that snowfall to come today, with snow tapering off this afternoon and sunny skies, with an extensive cleanup, likely on Sunday.
Brian Edwards, a meteorologist with Accuweather, told the Times that a 12-hour period of snowfall across Cape Ann would be ending today. He said the storm is being caused by a merging of storm “features” coming from out of the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic and meeting another system coming eastward from the Great Lakes.
While all area schools were closed and both the MBTA and Cape Ann Transportation Authority (CATA) shut down in mid-afternoon on Friday, Bill Simpson, a spokesman with the National Weather Service, emphasized that many of the roads along Cape Ann’s may will be impassable for most of the day today — especially along the shores.