Updated: 03/26/2014 1:47 PM
Created: 03/26/2014 6:46 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson
A spring storm blasted portions of Massachusetts and Maine with high winds and blowing snow on Wednesday, roiling the North Atlantic and leaving winter-weary residents of eastern Maine facing the prospect of digging out from up to 2 feet of snow.
Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard bore the brunt of the storm as it hit Massachusetts, dropping up to 10 inches of snow. The snow had stopped by the afternoon but robust winds were expected through Wednesday night with gusts up to 80 mph on Nantucket, National Weather Service meteorologist Charlie Foley said.
Maine's eastern tip in Washington County also was getting pounded by strong winds reaching up to 60 mph, accompanied by heavy snow. Gov. Paul LePage ordered state offices closed in Washington and Hancock counties.
Blizzard warnings were in effect in both states. The National Weather Service also warned of coastal flooding and significant beach erosion along the Massachusetts coast and wind gusts causing scattered power outages in eastern Maine and on the Cape.
In Lubec, Maine, home to a famous candy-striped lighthouse, the streets were deserted as residents stayed inside and waited for the storm to pass.
"We're having a good ol' blizzard. There's a lot of snow. It's hard to tell how much because it's blowing sideways outside the window," said Suzannah Gale, owner of the Homeport Inn, situated atop a hill in the village center.
In Bourne, Mass., 6- to 8-foot churning brown swells crashed along Sagamore Beach, eerily vacant of its usual joggers and dog walkers. Gusts to 60 mph flung snow and sand sideways, creating near-whiteout conditions.
"It's ridiculous - utterly ridiculous," said Mark Krause, manager of Sagamore Beach Ace Hardware, where snow shovels recently were put away to make room for lawn fertilizer. "It's supposed to be 50. Everyone's supposed to be out working in their yards. I don't get it."
"This sucks," he said, dashing to secure glass doors repeatedly blown open by swirling winds.
March is supposed to go out like a lamb, "but this is not a lamb," said George Hermanspan, who was fueling school buses in the neighboring village of Cedarville. "It shouldn't be happening. But Mother Nature does what she wants, and there's nothing much we can do or say about it."
Offshore, hurricane-force winds were reported at sea, but the region's fishing fleet and commercial vessels already had scattered to safe harbors.
Schools across Cape Cod closed, while ferry and flight service to the islands was canceled. State courts in the region also closed. Less snow was expected farther to the north and west in Massachusetts, with the Boston area getting just an inch or 2.
The tip of the Cape in Providencetown, Mass., was a ghost town, with many businesses not opening. "A lot of people are locked in today until the winds die down," said Mike Pickens, who works at George's Pizza, one of the few restaurants open. "We expect to see mostly snowplow drivers this afternoon."
Just days after the official end of one of the snowiest winters on record, the storm began heading up the Interstate 95 corridor on Tuesday. Almost 4 inches of snow was reported at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., and 1.7 inches at Reagan National Airport.
As the storm moved north, it dropped about 6 inches of snow in southern Delaware's Sussex County and blanketed parts of southern New Jersey, where 6½ inches of snow was reported in Cape May.
In eastern Maine, the snowfall began in earnest late Wednesday morning. Up to 2 feet was expected before the snowfall ended Wednesday evening in Washington County.
"This is a severe storm and it's going to be nasty," said Michael Hinerman, director of the Washington County Emergency Management Agency.
Although spring began a week ago, it's not unusual to have storms so late in the year, weather service meteorologist Bill Simpson said. The Boston area got more than 2 inches of snow in an April storm last year and was blanketed with almost 2 feet the same month in 1997.
In Maine, snow in late March is even more common: "You don't put the shovel away until at least May. You never know," Gale said in Lubec.
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