Nor’easter brings thundersnow, strong winds and whiteout conditions in Attleboro area | Local News

There was thundersnow in Attleboro and whiteout conditions throughout the area as a powerful and historic nor’easter with blizzard conditions dumped up to about two feet of snow Saturday.

The snowy and windy weather continued into the evening, with records already reached by early evening.

Attleboro Water Department had recorded 23 inches at 8 p.m.

That breaks the record for the most snow for a January day. It had been 21 inches in January 2005 for a month that saw a record 50 inches, city water department records show.

The 23 inches also ranks as the third most snow in a 24-hour period.

The water department registered 18 1/2 inches by 2 p.m.

The department also recorded a high wind gust of 42 mph at 10:30 a.m. during the height of the storm.

The thermometer read 16 degrees about that time but temperatures were forecast to plunge into the single digits overnight.

Fortunately, the snow was powdery and light, which made it easier to shovel, but high drifts made clearing operations a challenge.

Fire officials say residents should keep outside vents clear of snow, which could be blocked by snow drifts, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

They are also asking residents to shovel out fire hydrants to save time in the event of a house fire.

National Grid, the utility serving most of the Sun Chronicle readership, reported no widespread power failures in the area despite wind gusts reported as high as 50 mph in Wrentham about 10:30 a.m.

Just over 200 customers lost power in Franklin during the day, but electrical service in that town has been restored, National Grid reported.

Coastal communities where winds were more powerful, were experiencing the bulk of the power outages, according to National Grid’s website.

Area police and fire officials reported whiteout conditions, including Norton and Mansfield emergency crews which responded to a car into the median on Interstate 495 South around 1 p.m.

Most residents seemed to be heeding warnings from Gov. Charlie Baker on down to local police and fire chiefs to remain home and off the roads.

Attleboro Police Chief Kyle Heagney said roads were quiet with two minor accidents, one with a car off the road and the other a “fender bender” with no injuries.

“There were not many vehicles on the road, which is probably why there were not many crashes,” Heagney said.

In Norton, however, police responded to several cars getting stuck in the snow on West Main Street (Route 123) in the area of CVS.

“The snow is very deep in some locations. Plows are doing their best to keep up but it’s no time to venture out if you don’t have to,” police said in a statement in Facebook.

The storm also brought about an unusual weather event.

In Attleboro, a worker for the National Weather Service in Norton, who lives in the city reported thundersnow Saturday morning.

Thundersnow is an unusual event in the winter, caused when warm air rising from the ground mixes with cold air settling downward in heavy bands of snow.

“When that happens you can get a little bit of thunder,” Kristie Smith, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Norton, said.

The weather service reported 22 1/2 inches of snow in Norton just after 3:15 p.m. and just over 17 inches in Mansfield about 2:30 p.m. In Wrentham and Rehoboth, 13 inches fell by 1 p.m. North Attleboro reached 15 inches during the day.

The amounts were roughly double the snowfall recorded four hours earlier, or a rate of about two inches an hour, which forecasters had predicted was possible.

By the time the storm ends, forecasts called for up to two feet or more in Southeastern Massachusetts, where a band of heavy snow was referred to as the “jackpot” region by meteorologists.

The Red Cross of Massachusetts has prepositioned supplies, recruited additional volunteers and is working with state and local emergency management agencies.

Several churches in the Attleboro area were calling off Sunday services, including Murray Unitarian Universalist Church in Attleboro, United Methodist Church in Plainville, and Emmanuel Baptist Church in Norfolk.

There will also be no morning religious education classes at St. Mary’s Church in Mansfield.

Parking bans are in effect throughout the area.

In North Attleboro, the parking ban is in effect until further notice. Norfolk has a ban that end at 8 a.m. Monday and Plainville’s ban ends 9 p.m. Saturday.

In Seekonk, the ban ends 1 p.m. Sunday. In Mansfield, that ban is in effect until 9 p.m. Sunday but in downtown it remains in effect until 6 a.m. Monday.

GATRA service was suspended Saturday and Sunday.

The MBTA was curtailing some service but expected to run commuter rail on a regular weekend schedule. Amtrak suspended northeast regional service between Boston and New York.

The record snowfall for Attleboro over a 24-hour period is 26 inches during the Blizzard of 1978 that spanned two days, Feb. 6-7, and totaled 34 inches, according to Attleboro Water Department records. The 26 inches landed during the first day of that infamous storm that shut down the Northeast for days.

The second largest one-day snowfall was 24 inches in February 2013.

The second biggest two-day storm was 31 inches that fell in January 2005 during a winter that brought 95 1/4 inches of snow — only short of the 106 1/2 inches that came in the winter of 1995 to 96.

The last sizable snowstorms were 14 inches in January 2018, 13 inches in March 2018, and 12 1/2 inches in March 2019, city water department records show.

Police urge residents to call your utility provider in the event of a power failure. National Grid is 1-800-465-1212 and Eversource is 1-800-592-2000.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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