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Northeast Hit With Snow And Powerful Winds


On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Renee Montagne. A very cold winter storm is engulfing much of the Northeast, dumping more than 20 inches of snow in some areas and bringing strong winds along with it. Schools are closed in Boston and New York. Thousands of flights have been cancelled. Officials around the region are asking people to stay home and let road crews do their work. Temperatures are dropping well below freezing. And we're going now to Bruce Gellerman. He's a reporter with member station WBUR in Boston. We reached him at the emergency command bunker west of the city. Good morning, Bruce. I gather you are in a subterranean bunker, but you do know what the weather's like outside.

BRUCE GELLERMAN, BYLINE: Oh, I know what it's like outside because I drove in very early this morning. There were no cars on the interstate. Very slick, treacherous, very eerie. But people are heeding the warning from the governor, who said stay off the roads, and they did, except - except maybe for me.

MONTAGNE: Right. Thank you for being here to tell us all about this. Now, I gather there's concern about power outages, quite understandably.

GELLERMAN: Well, actually, there were some concerns, but it turns out that there are only - last count 69 outages. And that's not 69 communities. That's 69 families or houses. Because the snow is so light - it's fluffy. It's very weird. You know, you'd think that being this cold, the old saying that you wouldn't get snow when it's this cold. But in fact the snow did fall and it's really light, so no - no major power outages.

MONTAGNE: Which means that people can stay warm.

GELLERMAN: Means they can stay warm and they really do need to stay warm later on today because the temperatures are even expected to plummet further. I mean minus well below zero. And then you have the wind chill. So you know, skin can freeze in just a few minutes. So people are staying indoors. They did cancel - all schools here are cancelled, but they did cancel the state government workers. They don't have to come in.

MONTAGNE: You know, we do think about outages and we do think about slippery roads and people on the road. If those aren't at this exact moment the concerns, what are the major concerns?

GELLERMAN: Well, the major concerns have been the high tides. There were going to be three. We've gotten through two of them. The next one is at 12 noon Eastern time. And that's the one that causes the most concern. They've prepositioned high water vehicles with National Guards in coastal areas north and south of Boston. They've also prepositioned boats from different organizations, the highway police, the Environmental Protection Agencies. Twelve agencies in all have been kind of prepositioned here. But it is that high tide concern. So they're telling people that maybe, you know, they haven't ordered an evacuation, but maybe they want to leave their low-lying communities.

MONTAGNE: Maybe. But is it possible they will actually evacuate the coasts? I mean I'm thinking Sandy. I'm thinking all the other storms we hear about out here across the country.

GELLERMAN: Right. Well, there has been some coastal flooding in the low-lying areas, but nothing major at this point. So the governor has not ordered an evacuation. But people know that in low-lying areas they may - you know, best to get out.

MONTAGNE: Okay, so that's - that's pretty much Massachusetts. What do you know about the rest of the region?

GELLERMAN: The rest of the region is socked(ph). And this was a really big storm. They're saying that it could have affected about 100 million people up and down the coasts. It's very cold. It's going to be very strange, though, because by Sunday it's supposed to get very warm, like 40 degrees, and have a rain shower. So in fact the snow could be gone by Monday. But this is New England, Renee. Remember, the weather could change in a heartbeat.

MONTAGNE: Alright. Well, Bruce, thanks very much for joining us.

GELLERMAN: You're very welcome.

MONTAGNE: That was Bruce Gellerman of WBUR in Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Bruce Gellerman