Some quick news on the snowstorm slamming the Northeast:
- Anywhere from scattered traces to 30 inches of wet, heavy snow has been dropped from Maryland to Maine. Areas in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit, with 26-27 inches of snow dropped in Plainview and Windsor.
- Power outages are widespread. More than 800,000 have lost power in Connecticut over the weekend. As of early today, 750,000 were still without power, along with around 400,000 in New Jersey, 200,000 in Pennsylvania and 270,000 in New York.
- There have been fatalities associated with the snowstorm, with sources reporting between 10 to 12 deaths due to the weather. States of emergency have been declared in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and portions of New York.
- Snow-laden trees falling have done more than just cut residential power delivery. Rail lines across the region have also been disrupted. Amtrak has suspended service on several routes, and one train from Chicago to Boston was stuck overnight in Massachusetts. A spokesperson said service would remain suspended until further notice from New Haven to Springfield; Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh; New Haven to St. Albans, Vt.; and between Albany and Boston.
A few other details on the surprise storm:
- School districts across the region were forced to cancel or delay classes.
- Some local officials have been forced to delay Halloween trick-or-treating, saying local sidewalks are unsafe due to fallen trees and power lines. Worcester, Massachusetts is asking parents to hold off on taking their children trick-or-treating until Thursday to give workers time to clear up fallen trees and power outages.
- In a few ways, the damage from the storm could be long-term: New York City’s famed Central Park could lose up to 1,000 trees due to the storm, according to the group that manages the park.
To report outages in your area, click here for a full list of utility outage contact information.
Tips to Stay Safe and Warm
If you didn’t have a chance to winterize your home ahead of the storm, you’re probably not alone: given the early nature of this storm, lots of people were caught by surprise. Here are a few things you can do to stay safe and prevent additional damages to your home.
First off, keep your water pipes intact. One big concern on the part of lots of homeowners is preventing pipes from freezing and bursting. Make sure to set your faucets to drip, especially at night.
Right now, lots of people are looking to keep warm. If you are using a space heater or fireplace to keep your home warm, here are some safety tips:
- Establish a three-foot safety radius around your heater, furnace, fireplace or space heater. That means that anything that can burn should be kept at least three feet from heating equipment. (The same goes for children and pets: the three-foot radius should be thought of as a kid-free zone.)
- Make sure the screen in front of the fireplace is securely drawn to keep sparks from flying into the room.
- It may be really tempting to use your gas oven for heating, especially if the electricity is out in your neighborhood. Don’t do it. Using an open oven in a closed house burns oxygen, thereby causing improper combustion of gas. The prolonged use of an open oven in a poorly ventilated house can result in carbon monoxide, which is odorless, invisible and potentially lethal.
Of course, the real challenge many New Englanders are facing right now is how to stay warm with the power out. Here are a few suggestions:
- The first place to start: bundle up. Multiple layers of clothing, especially with wool or cotton, can help you retain heat. When you’re sitting still, wrap up in a quilt or blanket.
- Stay in a smaller room in your home until power is restored.
- Do you have curtains or blinds over the windows? Open them when the sun is shining, and close them when it isn’t.
- Close off any unused rooms. Closing off any space between you and the outdoors amounts to a barrier between you and the frigid weather outside. It also reduces air circulation, which in turn reduces heat loss.
- Roll up towels or shirts and stuff them into the bottom of doors or windows, or into any noticeable leaks.
- If possible, put down a rug or carpet to create a bit of insulation for your floor.
Keep an eye on our blog for additional information on the storm.
“Winter Storm Slams US Northeast, Cancels Halloween” – GlobalPost.com, October 31, 2011.
“Snowstorm Tangles Commutes in Northeast” – Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2011.
“Early Snow Affects Millions” – Associated Press, October 30, 2011.
“How to Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater” – Wikihow.com.
“Heating Safety Tips” – National Fire Protection Association.