EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 16, 2013

First real snowstorm cuffs Merrimack Valley

By Paul Tennant

---- — A rude awakening awaited local residents yesterday morning as the first real storm of the season dropped at least 7 inches of snow on the region, forcing many people to start shoveling before the crack of dawn.

Dec. 21 may be the official first day of winter, but it’s already here. Another 6 inches of snow is expected Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Snowfall for New England as a whole ranged from 2 to 8 inches in Connecticut and Rhode Island to almost 11 inches in northern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire and nearly 17 inches on Maine’s southern coast, according to the National Weather Service.

Between 10 and 14 inches fell in parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. The Connecticut River Valley had the lowest accumulation.

Ten inches of snow fell on Haverhill, according to radio reports. Mayor James Fiorentini said he did not know if his city received the highest snowfall in the area, but Highway Department workers and private contractors faced some serious challenges in Haverhill nevertheless.

Two city trucks that were plowing the downtown broke down, Fiorentini said. Additional private contractors had to be called in to take up the slack, he said.

Several residents in the Mount Washington neighborhood threw snow into the streets, the mayor said. He pointed out this is illegal and police will issue fines to violators. He noted, however, that police officers cannot be everywhere in the city.

“We rely on people’s good will,” Fiorentini said. “We need residents to work with us.”

Those who have snow-related problems can contact the Highway Department by visiting the city’s website, www.ci.haverhill.ma.us, he said.

Methuen Public Works Director Raymond DiFiore said yesterday afternoon the streets in his city were all cleared. With temperatures expected to drop into the 20s or even the teens, he had crews out sanding the streets, he said.

Authorities urged people to travel only when necessary, reduce speeds well below the posted limits and leave additional space between vehicles. Derry, N.H., police reported residents in that town were staying at home for the most part.

The first significant snowfall of the winter of 2013-2014 was welcome news to ski areas. At New Hampshire’s Mount Sunapee, the cars were pouring into the parking lot yesterday morning. While high winds kept the summit chairlifts closed in the morning, they were expected to open later in the day as the storm wound down.

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport reported all flights arriving and departing on time. Many morning flights at Logan International Airport in Boston and other airports in the region were canceled yesterday, but most afternoon flights were listed as on time.

“We term it a kind of low-end nor’easter,” said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist for the Weather Service. “It’s a pretty typical winter storm.”

Car accidents were reported across the Northeast, including a crash in central Pennsylvania that killed two people late Saturday morning. Police told The Altoona Mirror that an SUV was traveling too fast for weather conditions when it lost control and slid into the path of an oncoming pickup truck. The two people in the SUV died, and the truck driver was seriously injured.

Evan Weststrate, an engineer who lives in Newton, Mass., had been shoveling his property for about 90 minutes yesterday morning and wasn’t finished.

“It’s getting heavier as it gets colder,” he said about the weight of the snow. “The slush is turning to ice and it’s getting heavy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.