Bay State communities pounded by feet of snow dug out from the whopper on Wednesday, as utility companies restored power to tens of thousands of households and a town was in a state of emergency.
Massachusetts State Police also reported that a search team rescued two hikers who had been stranded in the heavy snow overnight in western Massachusetts.
The nor’easter dumped three feet of snow on parts of the state, including a towering 37 inches of snow in Franklin County’s Hawley and 36 inches in both Colrain and Rowe out west, according to the National Weather Service’s updated snowfall totals on Wednesday.
The last time the state had a snow report of 37-plus inches was the Blizzard of 1978, when Norton recorded a whopping 39 inches, according to the NWS’ record books.
In northern Middlesex County, Ashby’s snowfall total hit 30 inches from this storm, and up to 34 inches in isolated areas of the town on the New Hampshire border.
With downed trees piling across roadways and the entire community without power, the town of Ashby declared a state of emergency. Unitil deployed its mobile command unit to Ashby, and 64% of the town remained without power as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency power outage tracker.
“MEMA received a request for support from Ashby yesterday (Tuesday) with elevating communications requests to Comcast and Verizon,” a MEMA spokesperson said in a statement. “The request has since been fulfilled. Our local coordinators continue to be in communication with local emergency management officials supporting any gaps or resource requests that are identified.”
Town officials warned drivers to lookout for high snow banks, making it harder for motorists to see people in the road or working on their driveways.
“With the snow amounts being so high, please check the vents from your combustible heat sources outside your home,” wrote Ashby FIRE EMS Association Inc. “If these vents are blocked with snow it will cause deadly carbon monoxide to build up inside your home.”
Across the state, nearly 12,000 households were still without power as of 5 p.m., according to the MEMA tracker. The majority of the outages were in northern Worcester County and the Berkshires.
Out in the Berkshires Tuesday night, a State Police search team found two hikers stranded by heavy snow in Mount Washington State Forest. The six-person search team was eventually able to escort the men, aged 47 and 53, out of the forest shortly before dawn.
The rescue operation began at 7:48 p.m. Tuesday when one of the hikers called 911. Because of the heavy snow and darkness, he and his friend could no longer see the trail markings, they could not keep going to a cabin at the mountain peak, and they could not retrace their steps back out of the forest. They were about two miles into the forest.
After first responders cleared roads to get to the forest trail, the members of the rescue team hiked for more than 2.5 hours, and found the hikers at about 2:30 a.m. The two men were suffering from fatigue and cold temps, but were not injured. The group of eight then began the hike back out of the forest.
EMTs responded to examine the hikers, and transported them to an area hospital for evaluation due to their fatigue and cold weather exposure.