EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 27, 2012

What a difference a year makes

A far cry from last winter, but it's not over yet

At this time last year, the Merrimack Valley was deep in snow and it seemed as though every week brought another storm.

Local school officials kept an eye on the calendar as snow days mounted, the roofs of many school buildings had to be cleared of snow out of fear they would collapse and many communities had already exceeded their planned budget for snow plowing and removal. Everyone was just waiting for an end to winter.

Although it seems like spring has arrived, officials say, "don't count on it."

As of yesterday, Boston's snowfall total for this winter was just 7.6 inches. That's less than half the 20.8 inch average as of yesterday's date for the last 30 years. It pales in comparison to last winter, when by Jan. 25 Boston's snowfall total had reached 50.4 inches.

In all, a total of 81 inches fell last winter, or about twice the annual total snowfall average of 41.8 inches.

"Simply put, there has not been enough cold air when we have low-pressure systems to produce snowfall," said Bill Simpson, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Taunton.

Yesterday's forecast called for snow and sleet overnight followed by rain and patchy fog today with a high near 45, then clearing this evening with a low around 28. Tomorrow is expected to be sunny with a high near 41. Simpson said it is typical of what's been happening this winter.

As of Feb. 1 of last year, local school departments worried they would have to extend the school year deep into June. Both Methuen and North Andover public schools had logged four snow days while Haverhill had five on the books.

At this time last year, Haverhill's public works Director Michael Stankovich said one storm after another made it difficult for workers to catch up and forced them to alternate between plowing, sanding, salting and removing snow.

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