By Scott Malone and Daniel Lovering
BOSTON (Reuters) - New England bore the brunt of a stronger-than-expected winter storm on Friday, which brought a damaging storm surge to coastal Massachusetts and dropped more than a foot of snow on Boston and its surroundings.
The greatest damage came to Plum Island, a coastal community about 40 miles north of Boston, where a high tide and heavy storm surge pushed the sea about 10 feet higher than normal, causing one two-story beach front home to collapse on its side.
"This was a home that, coming into this morning, had its foundation compromised, there was a crack in it. It was not a surprise at this point," said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, adding that the state was "watching a number of other houses" along the same coastal road, Annapolis Way.
None of the houses at risk are currently occupied and no one was injured in the house that partially collapsed, Judge said.
"The next tide could finish it," said William Shute, interim fire chief of nearby Newburyport, Massachusetts. "It's pretty much had it — it's going to have to be removed."
While Plum Island so far has seen the worst damage, other towns up and down the Massachusetts shoreline also face high flooding, Judge said.
"In many areas, between openings in sea walls and things like that, at the very least we expect what you get with major coastal flooding - not just flooded-over roads but damaged roads," Judge said.
"The same thing with homes, not just flooded-out basements, but losing porches and having other structural issues with them after the tide goes back out," he added.
MORE SNOW THAN EXPECTED
Some 12 to 20 inches of snow fell around the Boston area, with the heaviest snowfall to the south and west of the city, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm was felt in Connecticut and across southern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
"This was a heavier than expected snowfall," said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, noting the worst of the storm came during the morning rush hour. Snow was expected to continue to fall into the evening commute.
"The afternoon commute, we believe, if people take their time about leaving, should be better, because the snow will be tapering off," Patrick told reporters.
Inland, the state was experiencing a more typical winter storm, with minor traffic accidents on roadways and about 8,000 homes and businesses without power, but nothing out of the ordinary for a New England winter, Judge said.
Boston's Logan International Airport experienced scattered delays through the morning as a result of the storm.
"Our snow crews have been at it all night long and we've been keeping ahead of the storm," said Richard Walsh, an airport spokesman.
Snow fell steadily throughout the morning in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where some residents carried umbrellas to shield themselves as they walked along freshly plowed streets.
"The car's a little buried; we might see if we can get it out later," said Karen Sheh, 30, a stay-at-home mother of two boys. "I'm getting a little cabin fever, so my husband stayed home an extra hour so he could watch them and I could get out for a little walk."
Jayson Daley, 21, who wore snow pants and a parka as he left his house, said he planned to spend the day working.
"I'm probably going to be shoveling for hours today," he said. "I go out every storm and shovel. I have a bunch of houses I go out and do."
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Phil Berlowitz)