Rhode Island Starts Digging Out Of The Blizzard

Jan 26, 2015

Residents across the state are digging out of the blizzard that dumped more than two feet on parts of the state. Gov. Gina Raimondo lifted the state’s travel ban last night. She thanked Rhode Islanders for staying off the roads. There was a fire in Providence and a handful of accidents, but no major injuries from the storm.

Business starting to get back to normal in downtown Providence on Wednesday as Rhode Islanders dig out from the storm.
Credit Catherine Welch / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza reported no arrests made during the storm, and the police only received routine calls. Schools are closed in Providence Wednesday, and the mayor said now it’s time for businesses and residents to shovel their walks and help their neighbors. “And now I’m asking you to shovel all of your sidewalks, whether it’s residential or whether it’s commercial,” said Elorza. “And please shovel your sidewalks by the end of the day on Wednesday.”

Rhode Islanders continue digging out yesterday (Wednesday) from the storm that dumped more than two feet of snow in some parts of the state. The greater Providence area broke a one-day record for snow by topping 16 inches.

Frank Zammarelli of the Downtown Improvement District was working on a crew clearing crosswalks and sidewalk ramps near the Providence Place Mall.   “So a lot of times when the plows go by, they leave big mountains of snow. We have to cut through it," said Zammarelli.  "Today’s going to be a 12-hour day. We started at 6.”

Forecasters Call It A Blizzard

Forecasters at the National Weather Service said it’s official, the storm that blew through the state qualified as a blizzard. Meteorologist Stephanie Dunten said a blizzard means sustained wind speeds and low visibility. “The observations have to be less than a quarter of a mile, have wind gusts of 35 miles per hour or greater and this both needs to coincide with a time frame of three hours or more,” she said.

Here are the totals reported from a variety of weather watchers:

  • WESTERLY 21.0
  • TIVERTON 19.0
  • CRANSTON 17.0
  • PAWTUCKET 15.5


On The Road, In The Air, On The Rails

Flights are starting to take off and arrive at TF Green Airport Wednesday. Many flights for Wednesday morning were cancelled, but by noon airlines reported on time departures and arrivals.

RIPTA buses started returning to service Wednesday morning after shutting down on Tuesday.
Credit Catherine Welch / RIPR

 Amtrak reports that trains are back rolling along the northeast corridor between Washington and Boston. Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains will run Wednesday on a modified schedule with reduced frequency between Boston and New York Wednesday, with all trains running between Washington and New York.

Crews continue to clear the roads across the state. RIPTA has return some of its service as conditions allow.

Digging Out Safely From The Storm

Lifespan reports as of Wednesday morning there have been 52 injuries since the storm started on Monday afternoon. Emergency rooms at Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro and The Miriam report 39 slip and falls, 9 injuries related to car crashes and accidents, 3 cases of carbon monoxide exposure, and one case of frostbite/hypothermia.

Health officials are urging Rhode Islanders to take care as they dig out from the snow. David Portelli, medical director of Rhode Island Hospital emergency room said every year he sees muscle spasms, strains and heart attacks due to over-exertion from shoveling snow.

“So what we would like people to be aware of is, if you’re not physically fit, don’t shovel your snow,” Portelli said. “If you are physically fit, watch yourself, pace yourself and it’s not a race.”

Portelli asks people handling snow blowers to be careful not to unclog their machines by hand. Each year emergency rooms see deep cuts and even amputations from accidents.