By many accounts, the blizzard that dropped 20-plus inches of snow and battered the coastline with hurricane-force winds was historic.

Days after it first struck, the impact of the powerful two-day storm could still be felt throughout the Island, where many streets remained covered in white and snow banks piled at their shoulders cast shadows onto the roadway below.

Waves of snow frame Gay Head Light. — Albert O. Fischer

Schools remained closed Thursday for the third consecutive day, though town offices and some businesses had reopened. Snowplows continued to work the roads, clearing snow, slush and ice for the fourth day this week.

It was the second biggest two-day snowfall event on record for Edgartown, since record keeping began at the National Weather Service Cooperative Station in 1946, according to data compiled by the Northeast Regional Climate Center in Ithaca.

A total of 20 inches of snow was recorded at the National Weather Service cooperative station in Edgartown. A ham radio operator in Oak Bluffs recorded 27 inches, the weather service reported.

“It is safe to say this is probably one of the stronger winter storms you have seen on the Vineyard,” National Weather Service meteorologist Alan Dunham told the Gazette.

The station record is 23 inches over two days, which also fell during a two-day blizzard in January of 2005.

Menemsha Market frosted with snow. — Peter Simon

The 24-hour record snowfall was a single-day storm that dropped 19 inches of snow on the Island in early February of 1961.

Despite large snowfall amounts and strong winds, the Vineyard fared well in the storm. Power stayed on in most areas with scattered outages reported in fewer than 200 homes, according to NStar. By contrast, Nantucket was cut off for the entire day Tuesday with no power, Internet or cell phone service according to news reports.

“In the big picture, things are going great,” Edgartown police officer David Rossi reported Wednesday. “We never lost power, so people are safe in their homes.”

Forecasters began predicting the storm on Sunday. By midday Monday, a 250-mile stretch from New Jersey to Maine was under a blizzard watch.

On the Vineyard, gray skies turned to light snowfall and towns, agencies and schools began to announce cancellations. Islanders rushed to stock up on batteries, bread and milk in anticipation of the storm. Store clerks compared the rush to summer. Meals on Wheels delivered an extra meal to their 112 Vineyard clients in preparation for the storm, and highway crews readied sand, salt and snow removal equipment.

White world of winter in Oak Bluffs. — Timothy Johnson

“We always prepare for the worst-case scenario, and it looks like this time it’s going to be the worst-case scenario,” Oak Bluffs highway superintendent Richard Combra told the Gazette.

By noontime Monday, the governor had declared a state of emergency across the commonwealth, ordering all non-emergency vehicles off the roads starting at midnight.
 Town officials and emergency managers met to plan for the storm. Throughout the storm, they shared information over a secure website coordinated by the county. The Code Red phone alert system was activated. The Steamship Authority cancelled evening boats to both Islands, docking all boats at the mainland ports where they would be better protected from the high winds. Ferry service was suspended all day Tuesday.

“Given the duration and the amount of snow, it ranks up there as a historic storm,” said SSA general manager Wayne Lamson.

As forecasted, the blizzard arrived in full force Monday night into Tuesday with heavy snow, coastal flooding and winds gusting to hurricane force.

Phil Hale, owner of the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, reported peak wind gusts of 77 mph at the Vineyard Haven shipyard with sustained winds of more than 50 mph. Mr. Hale’s anemometer is positioned on the roof of his building, about 30 feet off the water, he said. Though he doesn’t keep historical data, he said 77 mph is significant for a Vineyard storm.

“I think it’s awfully close to the blizzard of ‘78,” Mr. Hale said Thursday. “A lot of snow, a lot of wind . . . when you have gusts of 77 miles per hour and sustained periods of 50 to 55 miles an hour, that’s a lot of wind.”

Marshall Carroll at Menemsha Texaco reported a wind gust of 64.5 mph early Tuesday morning.

Fresh powder: Michael Wallace hits the sledding slopes. — Peter Simon

An emergency shelter operated by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army opened at the Tisbury School Monday evening and remained open until 10 a.m. Wednesday. Two people stayed at the shelter, while others stopped in for snacks.

Snowfall totals recorded during the storm, though significant at 20 inches, do not reflect the enormity of the challenges facing the army of snowplows working long hours throughout the storm and its aftermath.

Snowdrifts blocked roadways and visibility was limited by towering snow banks and whiteout conditions in some places.

On Chappaquiddick, dunes of snow, some three feet high, were blocking the dirt road out to Wasque Point.

“Our plow truck broke a U-joint trying to plow the drifts, so I expect our four-by-four tractor will rescue us sometime tomorrow,” superintendent Chris Kennedy wrote in an e-mail to the Gazette.

In Oak Bluffs, Mr. Combra said snowdrifts were the biggest obstacle to clearing major roads. The town deployed 15 snow removal vehicles Monday night, but by Tuesday, they had increased that number to 20, including eight private contractors.

Beach Road and East Chop Drive were impassable and closed during the storm.

Dock Street after the storm. — Mark Lovewell

Emergency responders traveled with extra personnel and snowplow escorts. Unplowed roads meant ambulances were delayed in responding to some emergencies, especially down private roads. “Fortunately, with the additional people called in, we could minimize the delay,” said Edgartown fire chief Peter Shemeth. “We had EMTs and we had firefighters and they were on the runs with the ambulance personnel, and we had shovels and everything else. We prepared for it but it’s always a challenge.”

For the most part, Islanders obeyed the driving ban and stayed off the streets.

“People have been pretty good about being on the road if they don’t absolutely have to be,” said Mr. Rossi.

Still, some ventured out to the empty streets on skis, sleds, and snowshoes. On Tuesday evening, the Edgartown police department warned on its Facebook page that vehicles were getting stuck. They also had a message for one group of daredevils.

“To the folks towing the snowboarder behind your truck down Meeting House Way; thanks for understanding that was probably not a good idea. Repeat — not a good idea — (minimal credit given for wearing a helmet however). If you did head up-Island to continue, hope you had a good time!”

Despite flooding from the harbor that extended to their sidewalk, the Dock Street Coffee Shop in Edgartown opened at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, just like it always does. Between 30 and 50 people visited the shop during the day, mostly town and snow removal workers who bought coffee and breakfast sandwiches. “I can’t believe you guys are open! We heard that all day,” said chef Darren Patrick. Staying open in severe weather is a tradition Mr. Patrick inherited from his late father, Don Patrick, griddle master at the coffee shop for nearly three decades.

When the sun finally broke through Wednesday morning, the Island came back to life and people emerged from their homes, shovels at the ready.

Tri-town ambulance chief Zeke Wilkins and his crew were out shoveling. “I am making sure all of my elderly individuals are safe and sound and have what they need,” he told the Gazette. Tri-town carries a list of about 15 people who might need them to check food supplies and lend a hand shoveling.

Alley's has your sledding and shoveling needs covered. — Alison L. Mead

During the storm, he had EMTs and paramedics stationed at the Aquinnah firehouse overnight to respond to any calls from that part of the Island. “They left the warmth of their own beds and families to come protect their up-Island community and they did so willfully and with a smile on their faces,” he said.

Oak Bluffs emergency personnel did the same, shoveling for the elderly and clearing snow from fire hydrants.

Ferry service resumed Wednesday morning, though many SSA employees had difficulty coming to work.

Storm cleanup presented a challenge for all towns, which hired private contractors in addition to their own crews to clear streets of snow, ice and slush.

“We have a lot of people getting stuck in snow and there’s a level of frustration based on the fact that it’s taking time to clear snow on the roadways,” said Tisbury emergency management director Eerik Meisner on Wednesday.

On Wednesday evening, Dr. James H. Weiss, superintendent of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools, took assistant superintendent Matt D’Andrea on a drive around the Island to check roads and decide whether to close schools for the following day. It was something of an initiation for Mr. D’Andrea, who was recently chosen to succeed Mr. Weiss when he retires this June. Later Mr. Weiss made the announcement: no school on Thursday.

The storm felled trees in West Tisbury and swamped scallop boats in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven, but officials across the Island reported relatively little destruction.

Chowder anyone? — Alison L. Mead

“It was a significant windstorm, but Vineyard Haven harbor and the other ponds didn’t have any problems,” said Jay Wilbur, Tisbury harbor master. “I don’t know of a single boat that got loose.” He did report slight damage to docks in the Vineyard Haven harbor.

Chilmark town administrator Tim Carroll had no reports of erosion or harbor damage, although people were

still out checking at press time. “As far as I know, no major damage has been suffered,” Mr. Carroll said.

Just as the storm delivered its final gusts, a baby was born at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

The baby boy was born to Tiffany Vanderhoop and Jason Widdiss at 2:42 a.m. Wednesday. He weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces and joins three siblings.

Staff at the Farm Institute welcomed an infant of another kind.

Tim Connelly and Elana Baumann-Carbrey stood guard during the storm while one of their Katahdin sheep delivered a lamb under a leaking roof. “They stayed here for two nights taking care of everything,” said executive director Jon Previant. “It was a serious storm, and the barn roof was flapping and snow came in. They’re heroes.”

Rev. Cathlin Baker shovels the way to West Tisbury Congregational Church. — Albert O. Fischer

The lamb was named Juno.

The farm workers weren’t the only ones who slept at work. Approximately 22 employees slept in temporary beds at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, some for 12 hours, others for 24 to 36 hours. “They were very upbeat, very willing to help, to start early and stay late if they needed to,” said chief nurse executive Carol Bardwell.

The emergency room was fairly quiet throughout the storm, she said. “We didn’t see that many new patients, and there weren’t a whole lot of storm-related injuries or accidents.”

Temperatures began to rise Thursday afternoon, promising to soften the burden for shovelers and snowplows alike.

But as the Gazette went to press, forecasters were already predicting another storm, though with little accumulation expected.

Sara Brown, Ivy Ashe and Alex Elvin contributed reporting.