EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 14, 2013

Calm before the storm

Region could see a foot of snow, wind, bitter cold

The first major snowstorm of the season won't hit until later today, but yesterday public works crews throughout the region were busy preparing for up to a foot of snow.

They were checking their plows and sanders, and making sure their drivers were set to hit the streets once the flakes began to fly.

"We're all ready to go," said Rick Russell, director of the Salem, N.H., Public Works Department. "We've got all the bugs out of the equipment."

They weren't the only ones getting ready.

Police departments issued reminders about winter parking bans, shoppers rushed to stock up before the storm, and organizations began canceling holiday events scheduled for this weekend.

Officials at The Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem closely monitored the forecast as the mall prepared for what's typically one of the busiest shopping weekends of the holiday season. No changes in hours were expected as of yesterday afternoon, according to general manager Cindy Hall.

At National Weather Service offices in Taunton and Gray, Maine, meteorologists were busy tracking weather patterns.

A storm that was once expected to drop 3 to 6 inches of snow is now predicted to be bring at least 10 to 14 inches to the area as of last night.

"That's where it's going to dump pretty hard," said meteorologist Michael Kistner, who is stationed in Gray.

Up to 14 inches could fall near the coast and about 8 to 12 inches further inland, he said.

The snow is expected to begin by early afternoon and continue through noon tomorrow, with the heaviest amounts falling between midnight and early morning, he said.

But there's more than just a foot of snow that will make traveling difficult this weekend.

Temperatures in the mid-teens and strong winds blowing snow across roadways will add to the misery, Kistner said.

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