EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 4, 2014

It's now the calm after the storm

By Shawn Regan

---- — As area residents began cleaning up and shoveling out from the storm yesterday, the biggest complaints and challenges were the freezing temperatures, slippery roads and finding ways to keep children busy.

Local communities reported various snow totals from 9 inches in Atkinson, N.H. to 18 inches in Lawrence to 23 inches in Boxford.

Gusts of up to 30 mph were reported throughout the region during the worst of the storm Thursday night. Wind chills of up to minus 25 degrees were also reported - cold enough to cause frostbite in about 30 minutes or less.

Despite the strong winds, only 1,000 power outages were reported statewide, state officials said. The lack of power outages was attributed to the light, wispy constituency of snow.

Local forecasts called for temperatures to reach minus 10 degrees last night, but were expected to climb into the teens starting this afternoon. Perhaps the best news of the day: Forecasters are predicting temperatures could reach 50 degrees Monday.

Police and fire departments throughout the region reported a few fender benders, but no major problems.

“A lot of people stayed off the roads and a lot of companies and offices closed. People were prepared,” said Andover Police Lt. William Ouellette.

In Methuen, Police Capt. Randy Haggar echoed similar sentiments saying “people heeded the weather warnings and took the precautions necessary to allow the city to work full force in keeping the streets clear.”

There was a minor crash involving a Methuen police cruiser yesterday morning. It slid down a hill on Baltic Street and struck a guardrail at 7:45 a.m., Haggar said. There were no injuries and the cruiser sustained minor damage to the front bumper, he said.

“This general area did not see the depth other areas, such as Boxford, received,” Haggar said.

In Haverhill, officials reported few problems but said the city’s snow emergency, which limits parking on roads to the odd side of the street, would remain in effect until 8 a.m. today.

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said all city streets had been plowed multiple times by yesterday afternoon, but that many remained snow-packed and slippery due to sub-zero temperatures. He said highway crews have been dumping sand on roads, but would not be able to use salt until later today due to cold temperatures.

“Normally at this time after a snow storm, roadways are down to bare pavement due to the action of road salt,” Fiorentini said yesterday around noon. “However, road salt is not effective when temperatures are this low. Consequently, certain roadways such as major roadways and steeply inclined streets are being treated today with a straight mixture of sand to aid in traction for motorists.”

Fiorentini said the city planned to collect trash yesterday and today, but that collections are behind one day due to the New year’s holiday.

Vincent Ouellette, Haverhill’s human services director, said the city’s emergency shelter was on standby Thursday night, but that there were no requests to open it.

Gov. Deval Patrick said the state fared very well overall. Residents and businesses, the governor said, heeded warnings and sent and kept workers home. Statewide, only 1,000 power outages were reported, Patrick said.

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan issued a warning yesterday morning, asking residents to shovel out fire hydrants immediately.

“In a fire, seconds count,” Coan said. “So help your fire department protect you and your neighbors by removing snow from nearby fire hydrants.”

Coan reminded the public to keep outside furnaces, hot water and dryer vents clear of drifting snow, to prevent flue gases from backing up into the home and creating a carbon monoxide hazard.

“Also, as you dig out your cars, remember to clear snow from all vehicle tailpipes,” Coan said, noting that last winter two children from Boston died from carbon monoxide while sitting inside a running vehicle in which the tailpipe was clogged with snow.

With schools closed almost everywhere the last two days and temperatures too cold for children to be outside for long periods, keeping kids busy inside was a challenge for parents.

For instance, at a popular sledding area at Haverhill’s Winnekenni Park, not a single child was spotted at noon yesterday.

Methuen mom Sara Kenyon had plenty of ideas to keep her three boys, Raymond, 8, and 4-year-old twins, Liam and Sennan, busy during the storm.

On Thursday, the boys had a dance party, played board games and “Simon Says.” After dinner, the kids made ice cream Sundays for dessert. Yesterday, with two feet of snow piled up outside around them, the boys were busy painting and using PlayDough.

Kenyon said she was going to let the boys bring some snow inside to play with “since it’s too cold outside to play.” They were also going to make homemade hot chocolate.

“Just a lot of family time since it’s not often we are all home together,” said Kenyon, whose husband, Raymond Kenyon, is a Lawrence firefighter.

Staff writer Jill Harmacinski contributed to this report