Spring snowstorm blasts eastern states

BOSTON (AP) — New England towns had begun putting away their plows after a winter of below-average snowfall, and hardware stores had set up their displays of patio furniture. Then, April Fool’s!
Boston started digging out Tuesday after its biggest snowfall ever in April, a storm that blew away the tip of one of the masts on the USS Constitution, the sturdy frigate known as “Old Ironsides.”
Snow piled up nearly three feet deep from New Jersey into Massachusetts, shutting down airports, closing schools and knocking out electricity to hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom won’t see their power restored for days.
“It’s a practical joke. It’s April Fool’s Day,” Christie Humphrey told her astonished two-year-old son, Sam, as he looked at the snow in North Andover.
The huge storm blew rain, sleet and snow from Maryland to Maine beginning Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, about 30 inches of snow had fallen in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire.
The Baltimore Orioles postponed their opening day baseball game against the Kansas City Royals because of wind gusting to 33 mph. Ground crews shoveled snow off the field.
Boston’s trolley lines were closed for the first time in nearly two decades. Many colleges also were closed, including Harvard Law School, shut for the first time in nearly 20 years. Harvard students used cafeteria trays to toboggan down the snow-covered stairs of Widener Library.
“I love it when the weather forces people out of their routine,” said Andrew Latimer, a Somerville lawyer who played hooky from work to go cross-country skiing in Cambridge.
Boston’s Logan Airport stopped letting planes arrive or depart on Monday afternoon and was closed most of Tuesday while crews cleared away two feet of snow. Many travelers were stranded at the airport.
“For the last 24 hours, we’ve become very intimate. If you can’t do that, then you’ve lost something somewhere,” said Susan Tremblay, 32, who was trying to get home to her family in Atlanta.
The 24 inches at Logan Airport made it Boston’s third biggest snowfall on record, and the largest ever in April, the National Weather Service said.
Until Monday, Boston had received just 26.5 inches of snow for the winter, well below the 43-inch average and last year’s record 107.6 inches.
Across the region, wind gusted to nearly 70 mph during the night. In Boston Harbor, gusts up to 50 mph sheared off the top of the USS Constitution’s foremast.
The biggest problem was downed trees and utility poles, which caused numerous blackouts; more than 200,000 customers in Massachusetts, and smaller numbers in neighboring states, were without power.