More than 31,500 still without power after Sunday's storm

By Colin A. Young

About 36,000 Massachusetts homes remained in the dark Wednesday morning, more than 48 hours after wind-driven rains swept through, knocking out power to swaths of the state.

By midday, the outage number was down only slightly to 31,503, mostly National Grid customers.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency reported 35,983 outages as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, mostly in the Merrimack Valley and Essex County. While the agency said most customers could expect to have their electricity restored by mid-day, they cautioned that some outages requiring specialty equipment may not be fixed until Thursday night. The midday numbers showed the lights are still not on for many customers.

Most of the outages are in Andover, where 4,291 homes or about 30 percent of the town remained without power as of 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

On MEMA's tracking website, the agency said 3,565 customers were without power in Lowell, 3,064 in Methuen, 2,724 in Haverhill, and 2,365 in North Andover.

Andover, Boxford and Tyngsborough remain the most severely impacted, according to MEMA, with 25 percent or more of customers in those towns still without power as of mid-day Wednesday. South of Boston, Eversource reported 304 outages in Norfolk, 276 in Plymouth, and 119 in Wareham.

On Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters that the goal was to have full electric service restored by midnight Tuesday. Having power fully restored by midnight would be "terrific," Baker said Tuesday morning, and added that he's heard from people without power that it "is an incredible problem for them."

Baker and his wife left Wednesday for California, where they will vacation until returning to Massachusetts on Monday. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito is acting governor while Baker is out of state.

According to MEMA, tree damage has been the primary cause of the power outages and 208 forestry crews are working with utility crews. MEMA said 398 utility crews are working on overhead lines, downed wires, substations, and damage assessment, and 94 additional contractor crews have been brought in to help.

Track, temps alter storm outlook, but officials urge caution

By Michael P. Norton

Warmer temperatures along the coast and a changing storm track have lowered the projected snow totals in eastern Massachusetts, but Gov. Charlie Baker early Tuesday morning warned that high winds and periods of heavy snowfall will create "extremely difficult" driving conditions and advised drivers to stay off the roads if they can.

"The roads for the most part have people on them, but nothing like a typical commute," Baker said.

While he has not instituted a travel ban, Baker said, "If people can stay off the roads for the rest of the day, and give the crews the space and the time and the ability to clean up after all of this, that would be terrific."

New York, Connecticut, and western Massachusetts are experiencing significant snowfall and the snow is moving east, Baker said at an 8 a.m. briefing with transportation and public safety officials in Framingham.

"This storm is still coming. It's still real," Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin said.

The latest estimates Baker said, call for 8 to 12 inches of snow in Boston and 10 to 24 inches elsewhere in the state.

Meteorologists are predicting six inches or less of snow in parts of the South Shore, southeastern Massachusetts, the Cape and the islands.

Winds are expected to reach 40 to 50 miles per hour and 50 to 70 miles per hour along the coast, which may lead to power outages when combined with the effect of heavy snow, the governor said.

Non-emergency state workers were not required to report to work Tuesday and state offices are closed.

"We full expect everybody will be back at work on full strength tomorrow," Baker said.