EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 10, 2013

Winter wallop leaves roads a mess

Wintry mix makes a mess of roadways

By Doug Ireland

---- — It wasn’t even a major storm, but the combination of snow, sleet and rain yesterday sent many cars off icy roads.

Numerous weather-related accidents were reported throughout Southern New Hampshire, making driving miserable for some commuters. Flights were delayed at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Logan International Airport in Boston as the region was hit with a messy, wintry mix.

While the precipitation may have tapered off late yesterday afternoon, the winter weather returns today.

There was a chance of more snow last night through this afternoon, and frigid temperatures are expected toward the end of the week.

That’s when possibly even more snow is expected to fall, with a storm possible Sunday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Thomas Hawley in Gray, Maine. A winter weather advisory was in effect until midnight yesterday.

Yesterday, local police were busy helping motorists who slid off the road. Several accidents, most in Londonderry and Derry, were reported by late morning after the falling snow turned to sleet about 8:30 a.m.

The sleet turned to snow at 10 a.m. before changing to all rain at approximately noon. The pouring rain became a drizzle after 1 p.m.

“It’s been steady,” Londonderry police Lt. Timothy Jones said. “(Officers) will clear from one accident and then will quickly be at another. We had nothing serious, thank goodness.”

Plaistow police reported a vehicle hit a utility pole near the corner of East Road and Sunrise Terrace during the early morning commute. No one was injured.

Kingston police Chief Donald Briggs Jr. said vehicles were sliding off the road into trees in his town, but no one was hurt. Two of the three accidents were on North Road, he said.

Public works crews were focused on dealing with the 2 inches of snow that was quickly turning into slush by midafternoon. Derry public works director Michael Fowler said he wanted the roads to be clear before everything to ice when temperatures dropped last night.

He said 30 public works vehicles hit the roads between 2 and 3 a.m. yesterday to treat them with sand and salt before they became treacherous.

Motorists were driving slowly and cautiously when the snow began to pick up about 7 a.m., he said.

“You always see with the first one, people are adjusting to the conditions,” Fowler said.

In Salem, public works director Rick Russell said his fleet was out on the streets at about 3 a.m.

“We had 17 on the road carrying out their assigned routes,” he said.

Electronic message boards along Interstate 93 warned motorists of the inclement weather.

“Winter storm. Watch your speed,” they said.

Highway crews were out in full force by 3 a.m., said William Boynton, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

No major accidents were reported on I-93, according to Boynton and New Hampshire State Police spokeswoman Lt. Nicole Armaganian.

Roads were slick south of the border, including Andover, where there was a five-vehicle crash yesterday afternoon on Interstate 495 north.

The weather also delayed flights. There were delays yesterday morning to Philadelphia, Newark and Washington, D.C., according to Thomas Malafronte, assistant airport director at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

Some people took the sloppy winter weather in stride, including Timothy Moran, 37, owner of The Halligan Tavern on West Broadway in Derry.

Moran was standing in the sleet yesterday afternoon, shoveling snow outside his business.

“It’s that time of year,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”

Marissa Escabi, 43, of Salem, an employee with the Derry Building and Grounds Division, wasn’t bothered by the wintry mess. She was out shoveling snow and salting at Veterans Memorial Hall and other public buildings.

“I don’t mind it,” she said. “If I did mind it, I would have found another job a long time ago.”

Moran and Escabi may find themselves shoveling again today when at least another inch of snow is expected to fall by afternoon, Hawley said.

The Boston area could be hit with at least 2 to 4 inches of snow and up to 5 inches may fall in western Massachusetts, Hawley said. About 2 inches of snow is expected in Newburyport and along the coast, he said

“If anyone from New Hampshire is driving south, they should take precautions and make sure to leave enough time,” Hawley said.

No more snow is expected until the weekend, but temperatures will be in the 20s and 30s all week before plummeting into the teens Friday, with a high of about 20 degrees, he said.

The frigid temperatures could be followed by a winter storm Sunday, he said.

“It’s hard to say yet, but it could be a plowable snow event,” Hawley said.

Staff writer John Toole contributed to this report.