RI News
3:19 pm
Sat February 9, 2013

Rain expected to wash away much of snow

The National Weather Service is still compiling the data from this past weekend’s snow storm.  But even without official measurements Meteorologist Matthew Belk says: we saw a lot of snow. “Looking across Rhode Island we’re looking at widespread accumulations of a foot and a-half to two and a-half feet of snow.  The highest snowfall that I see in RI is 27.6 inches in West Glocester.

Belk says we are still under a Winter Weather Advisory because we may see freezing rain any time up through 11 this morning.  After that temperatures are expected to warm and rain will continue to fall into the afternoon.

For the list of  canceled and postponed activities click here.

PARKING - Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has lifted a citywide parking ban. The ban had been in effect since last Friday. Taveras declared the ban in order to allow public work crews to plow city streets. Motorists report this morning that most roadways in the city are clear. But officials from RIEMA say the, "current wintry mix is making for slick driving conditions. There have been several reported spin-outs this morning." Sidewalks remain treacherous for pedestrians.

National Grid is hoping to have electricity restored to all its Rhode Island customers by midnight. 

Spokesman David Graves says the more than two feet of snow has complicated the repair process. “In some cases we had to use front-end loaders to remove snow so that we could get, first of all to the trees that had come down and remove those trees, followed by getting access to the wires and move those out of the way, so we could get to the equipment that was damaged so that we could get the process underway and get service restored. “

Graves says crews are working steadily to reduce the number of customers without power.  “At the peak of the storm, which would have been Saturday morning at about 7, there were approximately 187,000 customers without service in Rhode Island.  We’re down to about 20,000 now.  So from the peak obviously we’ve restored over 160,000 customers and we’re going to continue the process throughout the day.”

Coping with the outages

When the power went out in his Newport home Saturday morning Drew McGinly knew he had to do something.  The 35 year old naval officer has four children, ranging in age from five years to five days.  
Their house got into the low 40’s before he was able to dig out their car and get them to a hotel. "We’re staying in Providence. A lot of people in this hotel are in the same boat as us.  A lot of people with kids worried about not having heat or electricity for a couple of days."

Newt McKissick of Newport was slightly luckier.  He also lost power but had a gas fireplace he was able to keep lit.  It kept the house to about 65 degrees.  Although not as warm as the place he moved from just last week.  "We moved from Jacksonville, Florida where it was 70 degrees and it’s in the teens here. So quite a culture shock."

Both men are students at the Naval War College.

Rhode Island hotels were booked solid this weekend as people without power sought refuge from the bitter cold.   Nearly 300 people spent Saturday night in Red Cross shelters.  Residents were welcomed at nine shelters with a warm place to stay and a meal.  The Red Cross says locations may change but as long as there’s a need for shelters in Rhode Island, some will remain open.

Hospitals treat injuries

It was a busy weekend at Lifespan hospitals as a stream of people sought treatment for slips and falls, back injuries and carbon monoxide poisoning.  
Lifespan’s three hospitals treated 13 people for carbon monoxide poisoning over the weekend: nine at Rhode Island Hospital and four at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
All of the carbon monoxide victims survived.

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Gov. Lincoln Chafee says his biggest concern is getting the power back on before temperatures drop into the single digits Saturday night. As of Saturday afternoon, National Grid reports about 177,000 customers without power. That's down from 185,000 earlier in the morning. Forecasters say it's going to drop down to 8-degrees Saturday night. Hundreds of snow plows are clearing roads and power crews are working as fast as they can to get the lights back on.

Drivers Urged to Stay Off the Roads, Some Exceptions

Chafee was out early Saturday where he saw cars stranded in the roads. The governor has temporarily banned all traffic in the state, except for residents without heat or power and other official traffic.  With plunging temperatures, Chafee is urging residents without power to get to warming centers. He says crews are making progress Saturday clearing roads, and he doesn't know when the traffic ban will be lifted.

Digging out in Providence Saturday morning
Credit Catherine Welch

"I would like to accelerate that as soon as possible but I want to make sure these roads are getting cleared before I lift it, " says Chafee.

In Providence, Mayor Angel Taveras says the focus is on major roads, especially ones leading to hospitals.  Many of the secondary roads, Taveras says, still need clearing.  He's urging residents to have patience while crews get to work. He says it could take until Monday before all roads are clear. Both Taveras and the governor are concerned about residents not being able to get out and into a shelter with heat.

RIPTA says buses will not start running until Monday.

Schools, government services and cities and towns are closed for Friday. For the list of  canceled and postponed activities click here.

Shelters Starting to Open

Shelters are starting to open across the state as National Grid crews scramble to get the power on before temperatures drop into single digits. The following Red Cross shelters and municipal shelters are now open:

  • Bristol: Mt Hope High School
  • Cranston: Cranston Senior Center
  • Jamestown: Melrose Elementary School
  • Middletown: Gaudet Middle School
  • Tiverton: Tiverton Middle School
  • Wakefield: South Kingstown High School
  • Warwick: Warwick Vets High School
  • Westerly: Westerly Senior Center

Newport Pell and Mt. Hope Bridges

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority board chair David Darlington says winds were clocked on top of the Newport Pell Bridge at 90 miles-per-hour Friday night. He says toll takers worked through the night, although only six cars traveled across the bridge Friday night. 

Darlington says the Turnpike Authority takes bridge closings very seriously and only do it when conditions are most dangerous. He says neither the Pell nor the Mt Hope bridges closed during the Blizzard of ’78 or Superstorm Sandy.

Getting the Power Back On

National Grid has hundreds of crews out working to the power back on. Early in the morning as many as 185,000 customers were without power. The utility is urging customers to report power outages by calling 1-800-465-1212.

National Grid is working with teams that include law enforcement and snow plows to get to affected areas as quickly as possible.

National Grid crews working to get the power back on
Credit Catherine Welch

National Grid customers can sign up for text message and email alerts at its website nationalgridus.com

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