Thursday, January 29, 2015

Provincetown Digs Out After Historic Blizzard of 2015

Cape Cod took a real pounding by the tremendous "winter hurricane" that swept the New England
shoreline. This Wellfleet photo by Eric Williams, Cape Cod Times, depicts a "mother-in-law rescue."
It tells the story of towns all over the cape, dealing with extreme drifts, and mounds of plowed snow.
With the tremendous drifts of four and five feet and more around town, it's pretty hard to say how much snow we really got. The Ice House condos, on the edge of the harbor, at Howland Street, had no snow at all in their parking lot, with the crushed shell surface clearly visible. That's because all the snow blew up onto the patios and formed chest-high drifts, while the same thing inexplicably happened on the street side of the building as well, leaving residents unable to open the front or back doors to the building. They had to wait for someone to come and shovel them out, as did thousands cape wide.
In the meantime, they were waiting for the power to come back on, along with about 97% of Provincetown residents whose electricity had gone out during the storm. Nantucket also lost power all across the island, and outages were reported in other towns as well. Provincetown's power began coming back on within about 11 hours, and most of the town's electricity seemed to have been restored relatively quickly, given the severe winds of this very powerful storm, which may turn out to be one for the books.
I've been all over the internet trying to find an exact snow total for Provincetown in the "Blizzard of 2015," but "total unavailable" is all I can find. We do know that snowfall from this fierce storm broke a record or two in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with Worcester reaching its all-time deepest at 34.5 inches, although Auburn beat them with a depth of 36 inches, which was less than a record for them.
Blowing and drifting snows in the coastal areas are much harder to measure than depths in towns farther inland. Most people in Provincetown seem to be estimating up to two feet or so, which was the official overall total registered on most of Cape Cod. The devil is in the tremendous drifts whipped up by winds that officially gusted to 69 miles per hour here at the Cape's tip. I spoke to a dispatcher at the Provincetown Police Department who gave the opinion of a foot-and-a-half, but even at that, many of us are still digging out through several feet of drifted snow.

Elsewhere around the state…
• The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth ceased operations when their main transmission lines went out, with no damage to the facility, so safety wasn't an issue.
• At least two "blizzard babies" were born during the storm. One was in Loeminster, where State Police rescued a woman whose car had become disabled just as she went into labor. The other was a baby born under lights powered by generators when power went out at Nantucket Cottage Hospital, as it did all over the island.
• Scituate, on the shoreline between Plymouth and Boston, suffered severe flooding, as evidenced by an 80 foot section of seawall that washed away during the storm, and photos of countless cars under water there.

Please be careful, and pace yourself if you're shoveling out, which is a very strenuous activity. If you are not able to do your own shoveling, don't be afraid to call a neighbor for help. And if you've shoveled your own walk, you might continue a bit farther, and help out someone not as hardy. That's what life in Provincetown is all about.
Be sure to shovel snow away from your tail pipe if you are digging out your car, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when you fire it up. Exhaust vents from your home heating system may need to be dug out as well, for the same reason. And if you live near a fire hydrant, and are able, please shovel out the hydrant.
It will likely take a few days to plow all the streets, and police are asking folks who don't need to be outside to stay indoors, so town crews and others can plow streets and lots more easily and safely. If you are still without power or have another serious situation, you can call the Provincetown Police Department for help or advice.
If you have a story to tell about your blizzard experience, click the comments link at the bottom of this article to share your tale, or e-mail with stories and photos from the storm, and I'll happily post them.

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