Snowstorm buries JP

February 15, 2013
By

(Gazette Photo by John Ruch) A woman skis down Perkins Street on Feb. 9 after a historic snowstorm.

Jamaica Plain was buried in a reported 25.5 inches of snow after a massive blizzard with winds up to 45 m.p.h. hit the neighborhood overnight on Feb. 8-9.

City schools were closed, MBTA service shut down, and the governor banned most motor vehicle travel statewide in advance of the historic storm.

By the morning of Sat., Feb. 9, cars were entombed, most businesses were closed, and everything was coated in a white glaze of wind-sprayed ice and flakes.

Few cars were on the streets except for snowplows and emergency vehicles. Pedestrians walked down the middle of JP’s snowy, desolate roadways, including such normally busy streets as Centre, the Jamaicaway and Columbus Avenue. Sledders, skiers and snowshoers abounded. A snowman stood on a traffic island in the Hyde Square rotary.

The snowfall was one of the largest ever recorded in Boston, and JP’s total was among the area’s highest, according to the National Weather Service. The strong winds made the snow shallower in some spots and much deeper in others. The storm did not meet the technical definition for a blizzard by sustained wind speed and limited visibility, but looked like a blizzard to everyone who had to cope with it.

A Gazette reporter venturing into the height of the storm at 2 a.m. Feb. 9 on an empty South Street found the winds to be about 25 to 30 m.p.h. and visibility down to about 500 feet.

Various local institutions took extra measures to cope. At the Springhouse Retirement Community on Allandale Street, Executive Director Kathy Foley and volunteers were on duty for about 60 straight hours, including sleeping at the workplace, to make sure food was served, fire hydrants were free of snow and similar tasks.

By early this week, most traffic was back to normal, but there were complaints of unplowed side streets. In some cases, including briefly on St. Rose Street, plows were unable to continue on a hill and gave up, leaving a giant mound of snow in the middle of the road. In a similar case on Glade Avenue, residents shoveled their street out themselves by hand, according to resident Marc Pelletier.

Local City Councilor Matt O’Malley said he walked from his Jamaicaway home all the way to West Roxbury after the storm. He said he spotted a lot of neighbors helping each other, but also has seen some untouched streets and lodged complaints.

“Obviously, something happened here,” he said of the street-clearing troubles, adding he will look at how the City can “really take advantage of technology going forward” to improve future plowing.

Asked if he is now too old to go sledding in Jamaica Pond Park’s Sugar Bowl, O’Malley declared, “Absolutely not,” and pledged to do so promptly.

A City parking ban on major streets remained in effect and Boston Public Schools remained closed through Feb.12. The State of Our Neighborhood forum, one of JP’s biggest annual events, was postponed to Feb. 26 from its originally scheduled date last Tuesday.

For ongoing snow cleanup updates, see cityofboston.gov/snow.

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