New England faces more snow, cold for Presidents Day weekend

AP News
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Posted: Feb 11, 2015 1:48 PM
New England faces more snow, cold for Presidents Day weekend

BOSTON (AP) — Just as southern New England residents finished digging out from the latest storm, forecasters say more snow is on the way.

The region, which has already had record snowfall, saw a dusting of snow Wednesday and can expect more light snowfall Thursday just in time for the evening commute, according to the National Weather Service.

The snow should taper off early Friday morning, bringing Cape Cod up to 4 inches and around 2 inches elsewhere in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and parts of Connecticut.

Forecasters are watching a more potent storm that could dump higher amounts over the Valentine's Day weekend. The weather service says it's too early to say how much that might ultimately bring, but the Saturday to Sunday storm could bring "plowable snow."

Meteorologist Stephanie Dunten also warned of low temperatures Friday through the Presidents Day holiday on Monday. "The snow is not going to be melting anytime soon," she said Tuesday. "We recommend homeowners scrape any snow off their roofs to avoid overloading, as we've already seen a few roofs collapsing."

Meanwhile, communities continue to grapple with the aftermath of back-to-back-to-back storms in a little more than a two-week span.

Greater Boston's aging rail system resumed limited service Wednesday after shutting down completely Monday evening and all day Tuesday. Wednesday commuters reported long lines, crowded trains and lengthy commutes. Massachusetts officials say they will be seeking federal disaster relief funds as communities like Boston say they've far exceeded their snow removal budgets.

Making up for lost school days has become a pressing concern for local officials and a headache for working parents.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the city may have to consider holding classes on Saturdays or over spring break if it's forced to cancel another day of school.

The city has seen an unprecedented 6 feet of snow this year over a 30-day period, breaking a record set during the epic Blizzard of 1978, and has canceled school on eight days.

Boston has already extended the school year to June 30 and expects to hold classes on two Suffolk County holidays: Evacuation Day on March 17 and Bunker Hill Day on June 17. Suffolk County encompasses Boston and three suburbs.

"If we miss one more school day, we're in different territory," Walsh said Tuesday at a City Hall briefing. "We have no place to make it up."

Jeff Mulqueen, superintendent of the Pentucket Regional School District, which covers three Massachusetts communities near the New Hampshire state line, says he'll be developing a plan to make up for lost class time after shutting down the district for the rest of this week.

"The winter is not over and we are considering ways to be proactive," Mulqueen said, noting the district has already shifted the last day of school to June 29 for high school students and June 25 for elementary and middle school students. "All possible options are being considered. That includes holidays, Saturdays, April vacation, and non-traditional alternatives."

Not all school districts are in the same boat: A number of communities start school in the middle of August, giving them the ability to add more days to the end of the school year.

At the same time, Gov. Charlie Baker acknowledges most cities and towns can't go past June 30 even if they want to because of the way union contracts are structured. He said districts should consider creative solutions, including online teaching options.

"What you don't want to end up doing is putting a whole bunch of communities that have planned for and anticipated this in a difficult spot," Baker said Tuesday. "I think that this one's going to require a lot more conversation."

In Whitman, Mass., Tina Vassil said managing four children has been challenging even though she has the benefit of working in the school system and can stay home when classes are cancelled, as they were Wednesday.

"It's been tricky, especially with our two little kids, who are four and five years old," she said. "It doesn't matter when you put them to bed. They get up early and they want to be entertained all day...You can't turn your back on them for a second."

In Somerville, where school was also cancelled Wednesday, Antoinette Delmonico said she had to take off another day of work to tend to her two young boys.

"It just means more work when I get back," she said. "I think we're all ready to get back to our own space and our normal routines."