EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 15, 2013

Runways to roadways covered by first major storm

NORTH ANDOVER — A three-man plow crew hit the runways at Lawrence Municipal Airport around midnight today to make sure the winter’s first significant snow storm won’t stop planes from landing.

“We’re not shutting down unless it gets too much for us to handle,” airport Manager Michael Miller said last night as he and his staff of two prepared to clear snow off two runways, six taxiways, the entrance roads, parking lots and parking ramps.

Based on last night’s forecasts of 6- to 12-inches from late yesterday afternoon into mid-day today for the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire, Miller calculated he and his crew would work well into tonight to get the job done.

“A 24-hour shift — that’s what we’re expecting,” Miller said.

The National Weather Service Bureau in Taunton predicted 5 to 9 inches of snow would fall by this morning in the Merrimack Valley, with an additional 1 to 3 inches of snow and sleet accumulating by mid-afternoon in this area. A total snow accumulation of 7 to 11 inches was projected for southern New Hampshire by this morning, with another 1 or 2 inches of snow or sleet possible this afternoon.

Department of Public Works crews in the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire were gearing up early last night, preparing for the worst, based on forecasts and snowfall projections from the National Weather Service. Crews in most communities were busy laying down sand and salt on major and secondary roads as the first snowflakes were hitting the ground shortly after 4:30 p.m.

Lawrence’s acting DPW director John Isensee said his workers did some preliminary work in the morning, dropping magnesium on the roads to keep them from icing up.

“We’re going to put down some material early in a storm like this,” he said. “The magnesium keeps it soft.”

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