No rest for the weary: New England expecting more snow

By PHILIP MARCELO and STEVE LeBLANC
Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Just as southern New England residents have finished digging out from the latest storm, forecasters say more snow is on the way.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Stephanie Dunten said Tuesday the region, which already has seen record snowfalls, is on track to see a fairly weak system bring 2 to 4 inches of new snow to many Massachusetts and Rhode Island communities. It’s expected to happen Thursday into Friday morning.

The snowfall will vary: Cape Cod could see up to six inches while western Massachusetts and portions of Connecticut could get 1 to 3 inches.

Forecasters also are watching a much larger storm that could dump higher amounts Sunday into Monday. Dunten said it’s too early to say how much that might ultimately bring.

She also warned of bitterly cold temperatures Friday through the President’s Day weekend. “The snow is not going to be melting anytime soon,” Dunten said. “We recommend homeowners scrape any snow off their roofs to avoid overloading, as we’ve already seen a few roofs collapsing.”

Communities, in the meantime, continue to grapple with the impact of back-to-back-to-back storms in a more than two-week span. Among the top priorities: getting commuter train and subway services back on track and assessing the growing costs to state and local governments for cleanup efforts.

Greater Boston’s aging rail system resumed limited service Wednesday after shutting down completely Monday evening and all day Tuesday to give crews time to properly clear away snow and ice from tracks. Massachusetts officials say they will be seeking federal disaster relief funds as communities like Boston say they’ve far exceeded their snow removal budgets.

Making up for lost school days also is becoming a pressing challenge.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the city may have to consider holding classes on Saturdays or over spring break if it’s forced to cancel another day of school. The city has seen an unprecedented 6 feet of snow this year and has canceled school on eight days.

Walsh said that Boston, at minimum, will extend the school year to June 30 and hold classes on two unique Massachusetts holidays: “Evacuation Day” on March 17 and “Bunker Hill Day” on June 17.

“If we miss one more school day, we’re in different territory,” he said Tuesday at a City Hall briefing. “We have no place to make it up. We don’t have school days at the end of the year to add on.”

Jeff Mulqueen, superintendent of the Pentucket Regional School District , which covers three Massachusetts communities near the New Hampshire state line, said in a message to district parents that he’ll be developing a plan to make up for lost class time. The district resumes classes on Feb. 23, following its traditional winter break.

Gov. Charlie Baker noted that not all school districts are in the same boat: a number of communities start school in the middle of August, giving them the ability to add more days to the end of the school year.

At the same time, Baker acknowledged most cities and towns can’t go past June 30 even if they want to because of how union contracts are structured. He said districts should consider creative solutions, including online teaching options.

“What you don’t want to end up doing is putting a whole bunch of communities that have planned for and anticipated this in a difficult spot,” Baker said Tuesday. “I think that this one’s going to require a lot more conversation.”

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