New England is going from the Big Snow to the Big Melt.
After winter storms dumped nearly 9 feet of snow over the course of a month, many parts of the region will see milder weather this week and some much-needed snow melting.
Temperatures in Boston on Monday returned to seasonal averages in the low to mid 40s and are expected to stay that way over the next two weeks, although temperatures will drop most nights. Some days may even approach 50 degrees.
For Boston area residents, it’s a welcome change after February’s frigid temperatures, relentless snows and nightmare commutes.
“Goodbye snow! That was just the worst year, ever,” said Wenflore Dubuisson, of Malden. “It was so bad. My God, I don’t even want to think about it anymore.”
Jean Borgard said Monday was the first day in a long time that he commuted from his home in Randolph to Boston without the usual extra layer of winter clothes.
“It’s taken a long time to get to this point,” he said, wearing just a black fleece and without his normal thermals, hooded sweatshirt, hat and gloves. “I think we were all hoping it would happen sooner than later.”
But forecasters are cautioning winter weary New Englanders that they’re not out of the woods yet: the St. Patrick’s Day weekend may bring a wintry mix that could put Boston over the all-time winter snowfall record. The city is about 2 inches shy of the 107.6 record set during the 1995-96 season.
“We’ve come this far, we might as well go for the gold,” joked Jamie Coleman, of Scituate. “As long as it doesn’t become disruptive. It’s been a long slog.”
Forecasters also say this week’s warming temperatures likely won’t make a big dent on towering snowbanks.
Bill Simpson, at the National Weather Service office in Taunton, says snowbanks may appear to have shrunk since the snows slowed at the end of February, but they’ve actually become denser and more compact with time. That means they’ll take more time to melt.
“It’s not going to be as significant as people think,” he said. “It’ll melt, but not a good chunk. We’ll lose maybe 10 percent of it. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Across New England, government officials say they’re encouraged by what appears to be a steady melt, but they’re still preparing for the possibility of serious flooding.
“Things are going along as expected,” says Jeanne Richardson, a deputy director at the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. “Catch basins have been cleared and snow on top of them is melting. The system is working.”
Boston kept on top of the snow in part by using four industrial-strength ice melters. Lowell, Lawrence and other Massachusetts communities dumped snow into rivers and harbors.
Bonnie McGilpin, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, says the melters — two of which were on loan from New York City — helped Boston get rid of some 50,000 tons of snow before being powered down last week.
Elsewhere, officials are warning about falling icicles and other hazards as temperatures warm. They’re also reminding residents that they have important roles to play as the region enters an especially messy mud season.
Among the top priorities are making sure neighborhood storm drains are cleared and residents have proper insurance if they live in flood-prone areas.
In Portland, Maine, city officials are advising residents and businesses to make sure natural gas meters and surrounding piping are clear since that equipment isn’t necessarily designed to withstand the impact of falling snow or ice.
They’re also stepping up enforcement of snow and ice removal regulations as falling ice has damaged parked cars along at least one of the city’s commercial arteries.
In Nashua, New Hampshire, volunteers are learning the proper technique for filling up sandbags, in anticipation of serious flooding.
And in Schenectady, New York, officials are encouraging residents living along the Mohawk River to preemptively move valuables out of basements and to be aware of evacuation routes.
Said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy: “You don’t want to have to do the dramatic rescue where you have to send somebody in a boat and rescue people from upper floors.”
Associated Press reporters Chris Carola, in Albany, New York; Steve LeBlanc in Boston, Mass.; Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vermont; Rik Stevens in Concord, New Hampshire and Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine contributed to this story.
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