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Blizzard 2015: New England Digging Out After Getting Slammed by Storm


Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images(BOSTON) — New England is digging out Wednesday morning after receiving more than 30 inches of snow in some areas from a massive Nor’easter, which blew through with blizzard conditions.

A travel ban was lifted at midnight in Massachusetts, but authorities are urging drivers to stay off the roads as cleanup efforts continue.

Public transportation service from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is slated to resume Wednesday. Airlines were expected to begin flying at Boston's Logan Airport Wednesday morning and to have full schedules back in place by Thursday, according to an airport official.

A blizzard warning for Boston ended Tuesday evening as the snow tapered off, but one remained in effect for the south coast, Cape Cod and nearby islands.

Strong winds and coastal flooding were reported from the coastline of Long Island, New York, to Massachusetts. Wind gusts reached 60-75 mph during the storm.

The storm's heaviest snow bands stayed north and east of New York City, leaving the nation's biggest metropolis at the lower end of the snow forecast. Snowfall at LaGuardia Airport, in the relatively heavy-hit eastern New York borough of Queens, stood at 11 inches.

Fearing the worst late Monday, officials shut down mass transit systems from New York City to Boston, and closed roads to traffic in all or parts of five states. Thousands of flights were canceled because of the storm.

In all, seven states -- including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New Hampshire -- declared states of emergency.

On Tuesday, after a huge snowfall failed to materialize in some cases, officials in some Northeast cities and states lifted the travel bans and defended their decision to impose them in the first place.

"My job as a leader is to make decisions, and I will always err on the side of safety or caution," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "To me, it was a no-brainer. We have to take precautions to keep people safe."


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Boston Police Search for Person Who Shoveled Marathon Finish Line


mjbs/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Boston Police have released photographs of a man who shoveled the iconic finish line of the Boston Marathon route on Boylston Street during Tuesday's raging blizzard.

Using the hashtag #WhoShoveledTheFinishLine, Boston Police asked the public to help solve the mystery of the hardy soul.

Help Boston solve a #BlizzardOf2015 mystery. #WhoShoveledTheFinishLine? #BostonStrong pic.twitter.com/1icgPcW9Vc

— Boston Police Dept. (@bostonpolice) January 28, 2015

The finish line has special significance as the site of the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon that killed three people on April 15, 2013.

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Blizzard 2015: Snowblower Attack Leads to Arrest of 61-Year-Old Woman


Arlington Police Department(ARLINGTON, Mass.) -- A Massachusetts woman was arrested during the blinding blizzard that walloped New England after she attacked her neighbor with a snowblower, police said on Wednesday.

The incident took place as the freezing winds and snow continued to fall at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Police were called to a home in Boston's upscale suburb of Arlington to find a 60-year-old woman suffering from lacerations to her foot.

Her alleged attacker, Barbara Davis, 61, was arrested on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, violating a restraining order, and mayhem. Anderson had a long-standing dispute with the victim, who was not seriously injured, police said.

"Emotions may run high during a historic weather event like the blizzard we just endured, but that is no excuse for violence," said Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan. "We are supposed to come together as a community during events like this, and I am very disappointed with these allegations."

Anderson was held on $35,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned on Thursday, police said. Suffolk County courts remain closed Wednesday after the massive storm that left Boston digging out from more than two feet of snow that fell Monday into Tuesday.

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NASA Photos Show Scope of Blizzard from Space


NASA/NOAA GOES Project(NEW YORK) -- As the Northeast digs out from a wild winter storm, NASA has released images showing what the snow and strong winds looked like from space.

An image from a satellite operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association showed the winter storm system near its peak as it covered the Northeast around 1:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

Nighttime & daytime views of the #blizzardof2015 from @NOAASatellites & @NASANPP: http://t.co/KLkxf2wo4o pic.twitter.com/sVJLzkQO7E

— NASA (@NASA) January 27, 2015

The winter storm was so intense that it managed to obscure the bright lights of the big cities as the high cloud tops moved through the area.

New England was hit the hardest by the winter storm, which blanketed the area with more than 30 inches of snow in some areas.

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Massive Snowball Fight Breaks Out in Portsmouth, New Hampshire


Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PORTSMOUTH, N.H.) -- Residents in Portsmouth, New Hampshire found the perfect way to endure Tuesday’s snowy conditions -- a snowball fight.

The dustup, which was publicized in a Facebook post, broke out at 1 p.m. in Market Square and lasted for about 45 minutes. The event was organized with a playful nod to the town’s settlers, as organizers hearkened back to the fictitious “inaugural Portsmouth Snowball Fight” of 1624.

Dozens of people tossed snow at each other, a spirited showing as the Northeast was blanketed by wintry weather. One person was seen waving a pirate flag.

“Oh, it was worth it,” participant Calum Ryan told ABC News affiliate WMUR-TV.

For Portsmouth residents, the snowball fight offered the chance to bring a humorous touch to a serious storm.

“A lot of people were scared, you know: ‘Stay inside, it’s going to be really chilly,'" participant Ben Goodwin told WMUR. "But you get outside and get some exercise, and it’s just nice."

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WATCH: Helmetcam Captures Rescue of Children from Apartment Fire


Monkey Business Images/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Calif.) -- The Fresno Fire Department released dramatic helmetcam video from an apartment fire on Sunday in which three children left home unattended were rescued by firefighters.

The video shows firefighters in the California city battle through flames and smoke as they attempt to locate the children, whose ages range from 1 to 4 years.  According to a statement from the department, firefighters were able to locate and remove the kids within four minutes of arrival on the scene.

“The firefighters would say it’s just their job. But to get a rescue of this magnitude is something we really don’t come across every day,” said Agapito Martinez, the public information officer for the department.

Martinez says the video contains helmet camera footage from two different firefighters. The rescue came as a surprise to officials, as firefighters were originally called to the scene for reports of smoke in a building, according to Martinez.

The three children were taken to a nearby hospital with critical injuries due to smoke inhalation, according to the statement. No firefighters were injured in the rescue.

The Fresno Police Department is investigating why the children were  left home without supervision.

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Blizzard 2015: Amazing Time-Lapse Video Shows Snow Accumulation in MA


iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — The snow rises, and rises, and rises.

A time-lapse video shows snow piling up over the course of 24 hours on a backyard deck in Massachusetts.

The recording starts the night of Monday, Jan. 26, and continues into Tuesday, Jan. 27. The video shows the snow accumulating, almost reaching the deck’s railing -- nearly three feet of snow.

 

Coastal New England was walloped by the storm, which led to travel bans and mass transit shutdowns across the northeast.


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Massachusetts Nuclear Plant Shut Down During Winter Storm


Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(PLYMOUTH, Mass.) -- The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth was shut down early Tuesday morning as a result of the strong winter storm that swept through the Northeast.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Committee said on its website Tuesday that the plant experienced an automatic shutdown after one of the site's offsite power lines was deenergized due to weather concerns and a second was tripped early Tuesday morning. At that point, at about 4 a.m., the reactor was shut down.

A third, less powerful, offsite power line remains available, but the primary source of power -- for safety systems -- are the plant's emergency diesel generators.

The exact cause of the loss of the second offsite power line is still under investigation.

Messages posted to the plant's Twitter account explained that it is in "safe, stable shutdown" and "has enough fuel onsite to operate our emergency generators for 10 days." More fuel can also be delivered as needed. The plant says it is in stable condition and there is no threat to the safety of workers or the public.

 

Status Update (1/2): Pilgrim remains in safe, stable shutdown and using emergency onsite diesel generators to run our safety systems

— Pilgrim Nuclear (@PilgrimNuclear) January 27, 2015

 

 

Status Update (2/2): Pilgrim has enough fuel onsite to operate our emergency generators for 10 days.More fuel can be delivered as needed.

— Pilgrim Nuclear (@PilgrimNuclear) January 27, 2015

 

 

NOTE: As backup, the plant has additional standby power available from an offsitte power line and another onsite emergency generator

— Pilgrim Nuclear (@PilgrimNuclear) January 27, 2015

 

 

Plant conditions are stable and there is no threat to the safety of plant workers or the public. All systems worked as designed.

— Pilgrim Nuclear (@PilgrimNuclear) January 27, 2015

 

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WVU Student Who Died in Fraternity Pledging Had Blood Alcohol Six Times Legal Limit


pixelpup/iStock/Thinkstock(MORGANTOWN, W.Va.) -- A West Virginia University student who died during a fraternity pledge event had a blood-alcohol level of more than six times the legal limit, well above what health officials consider lethal, police said Tuesday.

Nolan Burch, 18, of Williamsville, N.Y., died Nov. 14, after suffering a "catastrophic medical emergency" during a pledging ceremony at Kappa Sigma fraternity, police said.

Burch and 19 other fraternity pledges were taking part in an initiation function known as "Big-Little," Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said in a statement released Tuesday.

Burch and the others were taken to a room in the fraternity where they were blindfolded and then taken to another house where they were presented to the "Big," a senior member or alumnus of Kappa Sigma, and given a bottle of liquor, Preston said.

After he drank a large quantity of alcohol, Burch was taken back to the fraternity house, where he was so intoxicated he was laid on a table, the police chief said.

Later that night, a fraternity member noticed that Burch's face was blue and tried to wake him, but it was found that he had no pulse, Preston said.

While some fraternity members performed CPR, a call was placed to 911. He later died at a Morgantown hospital. A report from the medical examiner is still pending, the police chief said.

Subsequent tests revealed that his blood-alcohol level was 0.493, Preston said.

The day after Burch's death, the school put a moratorium on Greek activity on the campus.

"And while some events such as chapter meetings, philanthropic activities and educational programming are allowed, the ban remains in place for social activities with the exception of alcohol free/dry events, pending approval of plans," WVU officials, the WVU InterFraternity Council, the WVU Pan-Hellenic Council and the WVU National Pan-Hellenic Council said in a joint statement released Tuesday evening.

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Surveillance Video Shows Moment Man Allegedly Hit Pregnant Girlfriend With Car


welcomia/iStock/Thinkstock(PASCO COUNTY, Fla.) -- Surveillance footage released by Florida police shows the terrifying moment a pregnant woman was struck by a car driven by her boyfriend, according to police.

Justin Colby, 33, was arrested on charges of attempted homicide after he allegedly hit his pregnant girlfriend, Crystal Noordhuizen, with his car on Monday.

Noordhuizen, about seven months pregnant, suffered minor injuries and was recovering at an area hospital, according to a police spokesman.

She told police she had been fighting with Colby, her live-in boyfriend, when she decided to leave their home, according to the arrest report from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office in Pasco County, Florida.

Officials from the Pasco Sheriff's Department said video of the incident shows Noordhuizen being hit by a car they said was driven by Colby.

Noordhuizen told police she was waiting across the street for a ride when Colby reportedly called to her and said, “Are you ready for your abortion date?” according to the police report.

Colby then allegedly drove his car onto the sidewalk where Noordhuizen was standing, striking her before he hit a nearby pole.

He was arrested a short time after the crash and was being held at the Pasco County Jail on charges of attempted murder and attempted murder of an unborn child.

Public defenders for Colby did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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Defendants in Vanderbilt Rape Trial Found Guilty on All Counts


iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- A jury has found the defendants in the Vanderbilt rape trial guilty.

After just a few hours of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all seven charges against Cory Batey and all nine charges against Brandon Vandenburg.

Vandenburg and Batey, along with two other former football players for Vanderbilt University, were accused of raping an unconscious student in a dorm room at the university in June 2013. Attorneys in the case gave their closing arguments this week after 10 days of testimony.

The two other players, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie, also face charges of rape and sexual battery, but have not yet gone to trial. All pleaded not guilty.

Batey and Vandenburg were each found guilty Tuesday on four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery.

According to prosecutors, the four players, who have since been kicked off the team, laughed at the victim before they allegedly assaulted her. Vandenburg allegedly recorded the assault on his phone and was additionally found guilty on one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography. Prosecutors claim Vandenburg sent pictures and video of the attack to his friends, and later searched online how to delete photos so the police can't find them.

Prosecutors then accused the former players of texting each other about the alleged attack, trying to cover it up.

Vandenburg and Batey had their bond revoked, and the two are expected to be sentenced in March.

The university released a statement following the announcement of the verdict, calling the evidence shown at trial "profoundly disturbing and utterly unacceptable."

"Our heart goes out to the victim," the statement read, "her testimony was forceful and brave. She has received our care and support." Vanderbilt noted that it had taken action against the two men after it was determined that they had violated the school's sexual misconduct policy, saying the school is "confident we acted appropriately."

The school vowed to continue cooperating with law enforcement, while calling "the safety and security of our students" its "top priority."


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NYC Mayor on Blizzard 2015: Travel Ban Was a 'No-Brainer'


Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin(NEW YORK) -- New York City's mayor is defending a complete travel ban officials ordered ahead of a snowstorm overnight that halted subway service and cleared city streets of cars even as New York City got far less snow than feared.

The travel ban was a "no-brainer based on the forecast" New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday at a news conference.

Forecasts called for perhaps two feet of snow. Most of the city got far less, though 11 inches fell at LaGuardia Airport in the eastern borough of Queens, which was harder hit than other parts of the city.

Responding to a question about potential loss of business amid the travel ban, de Blasio said if the storm had hit at the strength of the most severe forecasts, business might have been hindered for days, rather than just Monday evening and Tuesday morning. In addition, he argued, snow removal crews would have had a harder time clearing the snowfall amid all the cars. And, he said, lives could have been lost.

"It was right to take extraordinary precautions," the mayor said. "We got lucky this turned out a lot better than we feared. We were prepared."

"My job as a leader is to make decisions, and I will always err on the side of safety or caution," he added.

"We got about half as much" as what was expected, de Blasio said. "We were spared the worst of this storm.

"Just 20, 30 miles east of the city border in Long Island, they got exactly what was originally projected for here," de Blasio said. "Our friends in Boston got what was projected for here."

The city-wide travel ban was lifted at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, but de Blasio said the subway will not return to full weekday capacity on Tuesday. City parks reopened Tuesday at 11 a.m.

The public transit system is "quickly coming back to life," the mayor said. "The worst has passed."

New York's blizzard warning was cancelled Tuesday morning, but a winter storm warning remains in effect until midnight Tuesday night.

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Mormon Church Announces Conditional Support for LGBT Rights


Stock Photo of the Spires of the Salt Lake Temple. Photo Credit: Andriy Kravchenko/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Tuesday that it would support legislation that would provide protections for LGBT people in areas including housing and employment.

In the announcement, the church said it would support that legislation "while ensuring that religious freedom was not compromised." The announcement was made at a news conference featuring three members of the governing Twelve Apostles and one female leader of the church. The call was made for a "fairness for all" approach -- one "that balances religious freedom protections with reasonable safeguards for LGBT people."

In 2009, the church supported Salt Lake City ordinances protecting housing and employment rights for LGBT people. Tuesday's announcement broadened that position, saying that the church would now support similar ordinances across the state of Utah and the country, "as long as there was a balanced approach to protect constitutional religious exercise and conscience."

"We are at our best as fellow citizens when the push-pull of different viewpoints, freely and thoroughly aired in national debate, leads ultimately to compromise and resolution and we move on as a nation, stronger than before," said Sister Neill Marriott.

According to a release from the church, the appeal is not a change in doctrine, but represents "a desire to bring people together, to encourage mutually respectful dialogue in what has become a highly polarized national debate."

"In this approach," the church said, "neither side may get all that they want. We must all learn to live with others who do not share the same beliefs or values."

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Maryland Sinkhole Nearly Swallows Two Cars


ABC News(BLADENSBURG, Md.) -- Two cars partially fell into a sinkhole in a Washington, D.C., suburb early Tuesday morning after a water main break.

A Bladensburg, Maryland, family was forced to leave around 4 a.m. after discovering water in their home, a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokeswoman told ABC News.

When the family, which included a father and his 8-year-old son and 4-year-old and 6-month-old daughters, backed their car out of the driveway, they hit a sinkhole that had been hidden by overflowing water.

The father said the family escaped the car and watched as the sinkhole grew.

Other families in the neighborhood were rushed out of their homes after the break in the 12-inch main caused water to spill everywhere.

"The cars have been pulled out of the sinkhole and we are in the process of repairing the broken pipe," Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokeswoman Lyn Riggins told ABC News.

Nearly 80 homes and businesses in the area were without water but should have water restored by Tuesday night, according to Riggins.

"The only family that is displaced is the family that lost their car and we are working with them to stay in a hotel," Riggins said.

The commission has responded to 400 water main breaks in the area this month alone, according to Riggins. There are normally around 1,700 water main breaks in the area annually.

"This break was likely caused by a combination of the pipe's age and the cold weather," Riggins said. "The pipe was 90 years old and fluctuation in temperature plays a big role in causing water main breaks."

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Blizzard 2015: 'Mass'-ive Storm Slams Coast, Nantucket


Kerry Kennedy Flynn / Nantucket (NANTUCKET, Mass.) -- Eastern Massachusetts and parts of Long Island, New York were the hardest hit by the blizzard that dumped nearly two feet of snow on New England -- causing heavy winds, coastal flooding and plunging all of Nantucket, Massachusetts into the darkness.

There were more than 30,000 power outages throughout the Northeast as of 9 a.m. Tuesday -- almost half of which are on Nantucket, where winds clocked in at 78 miles per hour, the strongest of the storm, and several feet of water flooded downtown.

There are no reports of injuries or major structural damage on the island, according to Nantucket Emergency Services Chief William Pittman.

In Marshfield, Massachusetts -- between Boston and Cape Cod -- there were striking images of homes underwater.

"We basically have the ocean in much of our town," the Marshfield Fire Department said.

The coastal town of Scituate also experienced significant flooding.

 

Snow, high winds & reduced visibility continue as @nationalgridus & @TownofNantucket work to restore power #Nantucket pic.twitter.com/rJyUmlas42

— Nantucket Police (@NantucketPolice) January 27, 2015

 

 

Significant flooding in the Francis St & Washington St area #Nantucket #AckJuno pic.twitter.com/ov3vR6SSVF

— Nantucket Police (@NantucketPolice) January 27, 2015

 

Boston public schools were closed Tuesday and the city's Amtrak service to New York was suspended.

Snowfall totals were up to 32.5 inches in Auburn, Massachusetts, 30.5 inches in Thompson, Connecticut, 28.5 inches in Orient, New York, and 20.8 inches in Boston, with snow continuing to fall.

"I want to make it clear to everyone in Boston that we're still in the middle of a winter storm of historic proportions," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said shortly after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The city feared an additional six inches of snowfall, Walsh added, with snowy conditions expected late into the evening.

Travel bans and mass transit shutdowns remained in effect in the region, though they had been lifted in areas further south and west that were spared the worst of the storm.

Airlines were expected to begin flying at Boston’s Logan Airport Wednesday morning and to have full schedules back in place by Thursday, according to an airport official.

Nevertheless, Walsh recommended Boston-area residents continue to stay in their homes Wednesday, though he expected they would no longer be required to stay off the roads.

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