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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Robert Siegel. The Northeast is now enveloped in a blizzard that is likely bound for the record books. That means snow falling at two to three inches an hour and wind gusts as high as 70 miles an hour. One more number for you: Some places could see as much as three feet of snow. NPR's Tovia Smith reports even the most seasoned New Englanders are hunkering down.
TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: All across Massachusetts, cities are shut down and families shut in. The many days of forecasts and computer models are now a very serious reality.
GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK: Two or three feet of snow in this period of time is a profoundly different kind of storm than we have dealt with.
SMITH: Governor Deval Patrick says snowfall is fast and dangerous.
PATRICK: We expect the drifts to be as high as five feet. There are hazards under this winter wonderland and we just want everybody to exercise extreme caution.
SMITH: Schools and businesses closed today, even before the first flake fell. The public transportation system is shut down and all but critical vehicles are banned from the roads.
(SOUNDBITE OF SNOWPLOW)
MIKE CHARTIER: I think I'm going to be tired by the time it's done.
SMITH: Snowplower Mike Chartier spent the morning drinking extra coffee and the afternoon dropping salt and sand before switching over to plowing.
CHARTIER: Since it hasn't snowed really a lot yet, I think were due.
SMITH: Indeed Boston hasn't seen even a six-inch snowfall in a couple years, and many let their guard down.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: One, two, three, four, five, six.
SMITH: At a hardware store in nearby Newton, Euginio Caruso was scooping up shovels after finding none left at five other stores.
EUGINIO CARUSO: I'm a landscaper. I'd get 20 more, but this storm is huge. We need a lot of those.
SMITH: But for every snowplower or hardware store making a few extra bucks this weekend, there are plenty other businesses with a lot more to lose.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Good morning, how are you?
JEFF DAVIDSON: I don't know how I am. I'll let you know in two days when I've been closed for two days.
SMITH: Jeff Davidson owns a dry cleaning business.
DAVIDSON: In this weather, people don't go out, so people don't go out, they're wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts, so not things that I'm going to see. So I guess it's our turn, but not too happy about it.
SMITH: It's a very different story among the sledding set.
UNIDENTIIED CHILD: This is fun. Whoa.
KAREN BOTTAR: Love the snow, we wait for snow.
SMITH: Karen and Don Bottar say they'll be out making snow angels and tobogganing just like the kids.
DON BOTTAR: It might end up being a little too much all at once, but, you know, what are you going to do?
SMITH: Tomorrow, shovel, but tonight...
BOTTAR: A movie, a scotch.
BOTTAR: This is going to be, like, more fun that the Super Bowl.
SMITH: Well, that wasn't fun at all this year, not in New England.
BOTTAR: Yeah, I know, that's right.
SMITH: PJ Mensel was ready days ago with his snow shoes and cross-country skis right along with his generator and stockpile of food. He learned his lesson the hard way, way back in the blizzard of '78, when he drove to the store for milk and ended up abandoning his car in the snow and trying to make it on skis.
PJ MENSEL: I remember, like, on way back I wasn't a good skier, and I fell over, split my pants, and the milk all over the place. And I had to go back down again.
SMITH: The damage from this storm likely to be more than spilled milk. The worst coastal flooding and power outages are yet to come, and with temperatures in the 20s, warming centers and shelters have been set up. But 38-year-old Damon Kelly, a painter from Framingham, says it's all just par for the course for February in New England.
DAMON KELLY: As New Englanders, we should be a little bit tougher. I'm not sure what happened, somewhere along the lines we started to panic about snowstorms. I mean, we'll get through it.
SMITH: Call that a little bit of hardy New England bluster, but that kind of bravado can also crumble quickly under the weight of a winter wallop.
KELLY: I don't know how many more years I can go through it. I don't know, maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I wake up in the morning and it hurts.
SMITH: Kelly says he's thinking about moving somewhere warmer. For now, he'll be right here toughing out one more nor'easter. Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.