PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island and Bristol County, Mass., residents are now breaking out the shovels and snow blowers to start digging out from this latest March nor’easter, but the area isn’t out of the woods yet.
Tuesday’s all-day storm brought high snowfall amounts across the area, with some communities exceeding 1 foot. Foster, as of 3:39 p.m., had received 17 inches of snow – the most across Rhode Island – according to the National Weather Service in Taunton. Woonsocket, as of 2:25 p.m., got 16 inches of snow, while nearby North Smithfield and Cumberland got 13.4 inches and 12.2 inches, respectively, by early Tuesday afternoon.
Timothy Walsh, of the Woonsocket Emergency Management Agency, said there are no “major” issues currently despite the high snowfall in the city. Walsh said there were a few “temporary” outages, but nothing significant.
Just over 11 inches was dumped on West Warwick. Providence had received 8 inches, while Cranston and Scituate each received 9 inches.
In Bristol County, Mansfield received just under 15 inches as of 3:46 p.m., the National Weather Service states. North Dighton got 1 foot of snow, with the snow being partially wet.
National Weather Service Spokesman and Meteorologist Bill Simpson said Tuesday the storm was playing up “pretty much as expected” with the snowfall totals, and also noted predicting whether wet or dry snow would fall for this storm was a challenge, particularly in March.
As the snow slows down after midnight, temperatures are expected to be below normal for this time of year over the next few days. Simpson said the normal high is about 44 to 45 degrees. However the National Weather Service is forecasting high temperatures Wednesday to be 39 degrees, and to be in the mid-30s on Friday, Saturday and Monday. Simpson does expect some snow to melt this weekend as sunny skies are forecast, but it won’t be overnight because of the significant amount that fell Tuesday. “Even though it will be cool, [the sun] will do a pretty good job of melting the snow,” Simpson said.
Unfortunately, snow is again in the forecast for southeastern New England next Tuesday, Simpson said, which would be the fourth such storm in less than a month.
Acushnet, Attleboro, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, New Bedford and Westport schools have already canceled classes for Wednesday, according to the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association, and several parking bans are still in effect.
In an afternoon press conference in East Greenwich, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo continued to plea with residents to stay inside and off the roads as this storm “is not over yet.”
“We’re in the middle of this storm and we need you to hang in there and be patient,” Raimondo said. She also said she heard of a number of people got the “natural tendency” to go out on the roads when there was a lull in the storm in the early afternoon. But, a “number” of accidents occurred in that small amount of time, Raimondo said. R.I. State Police Col. Ann C. Assumpico said there had been multiple motor vehicle crashes, some involving vehicles going off the roadway, hitting telephone poles, causing downed wires and one crash that was a rollover, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
“It’s not safe to drive,” said Raimondo, who visited various communities and the R.I. Emergency Management Agency earlier Tuesday. “I understand the temptation … please stay inside. It’s not safe to drive and will not be safe this evening.
“The municipalities are working as hard as they can, so hang in there a little bit longer with us.”
Raimondo also extended the tractor trailer ban, which went into effect at 4 a.m., until 8 p.m. Tuesday. The ban was originally scheduled to be lifted at 4 p.m. However Raimondo cited multiple tractor trailer trucks that jackknifed in both Connecticut and Massachusetts, and didn’t want to have any in Rhode Island – which there were none as of approximately 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Plow crews are still out clearing roads, state Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti Jr. said Tuesday afternoon, and have been since 10 p.m. Monday. Crews will remain out until the early morning hours clearing the snow to have them ready for travel by Wednesday morning’s commute, Alviti said.
“Just give us that little extra time and we’ll have everything cleared out by [Wednesday] morning,” he said.
Although not as widespread as previous storms, a little more than 20,000 Rhode Island residents and more than 11,000 Bristol County residents are without power. Raimondo said National Grid has crews working “in full force” to restore power to those who lost it. Customers who lost power are urged to report it to National Grid at (800) 465-1212.
Raimondo also said late Tuesday that warming centers are open in various municipalities and there also has been a high need for power stations for residents to charge their phones.
The R.I. Public Transportation Authority, which detoured more than 30 routes throughout the day, officially suspended operations as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and will resume normal service Wednesday.
“Safety is RIPTA’s top priority, and intensifying storm conditions are making it dangerous to remain on the road,” RIPTA said in a press release early Tuesday afternoon.
RIPTA officials also said there was “minimal passenger activity,” thanks in large measure to Raimondo urging residents to stay home and not go out during the storm. While RIPTA expects be back on schedule Wednesday, road conditions will “be a factor” and advises riders to check RIPTA’s website and social media outlets for additional information.
The majority of flights coming in and going out of T.F. Green Airport are canceled, according to the R.I. Airport Corp. However, arriving flights are expected to come into Rhode Island on time just before 10 p.m.
James Bessette is a PBN staff writer.