EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 9, 2013

Wild weather surprises region

While everyone was watching the shoreline, Mother Nature snuck in overnight and dropped more than a foot of snow on inland areas of the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire yesterday.

The late-winter storm was centered far out in the Atlantic Ocean and was forecast to be little more than a nuisance for most of New England, but it was the persistent snow that threw people for a loop and causing lousy commuting conditions and more damage to municipal budgets already buried in red by all the white.

The coastline was battered resulting in a vacant house on Plum Island being ripped from its foundation and collapsing into the sea.

“As of last night, most people didn’t think this storm would materialize,” Lawrence police Chief John Romero yesterday morning. “It definitely caught people by surprise because the predictions were so much less.”

“I didn’t think I would have to shovel out as much as I did,” said Matt Robert of Derry. “When I went to bed we had barely gotten anything.”

Ryan Breton of AtkinsonWeather.com said 13 inches of snow fell in Atkinson. The snowfall brings the season total to 68 inches, 18 inches above the seasonal average in Atkinson.

Hampstead saw 13 inches, while Derry had 11 inches. “We thought we’d be getting between 4 to 8 inches,” Breton said. “But a large storm hundreds of miles offshore ended up affecting us.”

AtkinsonWeather.com said there were a couple of computer models that indicated we were in for a hit, so “it is not a complete surprise, but what happened is very impressive.”

Breton added, “I haven’t see a weather set-up like this in my nine years of observing Merrimack Valley weather.”

Even before the storm, the city of Lawrence had spent $750,000 on snow and ice removal this winter, five times the $150,000 that was budgeted, acting Public Works Director John Isensee said.

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