EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 6, 2014

Taken by Storm

Add 10 more inches of snow to the season's totals

By Douglas Moser
dmoser@eagletribune.com

---- — Another winter storm walloped the area yesterday, forcing schools to cancel classes while leaving about 10 inches of snow in the second of three storms expected this week.

Forecasters said the commute today should not be bad, providing highway crews stay on top of the roads. But with temperatures not getting above freezing, slush could freeze and make traveling treacherous. State Police were already reporting slick conditions on some secondary roads last night, citing black ice and slush.

Yesterday’s storm pushed the Boston area past the normal annual snowfall total, with four to six weeks of prime snow season left to go and another potent storm a possibility for this weekend, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

The snow already has piled up this winter, with about a half dozen storms dumping 44.8 inches on the Boston area so far this year, according to the National Weather Service. The average annual total is 43.8 inches.

“It’s only the middle of winter. We’ve got a long way to go,” said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton.

Last winter, the region got a total of 63.4 inches. In the 2011-12 winter, the area got a scant 9.3 inches total.

The worst of yesterday’s storm hit in the morning through about 1 p.m., with low visibility due to freezing fog and snow falling at about an inch an hour.

“The thing is it’s hazardous driving because it’s a white out,” North Andover director of public works Bruce Thibodeau said.

Dunham, at the National Weather Service in Taunton, said the worst of it was over by about 1:30 p.m. though light snow continued to fall throughout the afternoon.

Methuen Police Lt. Michael Wnek said residents generally heeded officials’ calls to stay off the roads, and the light traffic has been helpful.

“It’s easier for our plows to get out there and do what they have to do,” he said.

With the exception of some fender benders and spin-outs, Lawrence police and firefighters reported no major problems. Public Works Director John Isensee also noted no water breaks were reported, issues that tend to crop up with the city’s antiquated water supply system in the cold weather.

“That’s a blessing in itself,” he said.

In Haverhill, Mayor James Fiorentini said it will take several days to complete sidewalk plowing and to remove snow in major commercial areas. He asked residents who clear their own sidewalks of snow not to plow or shovel snow back into the streets.

Local schools made the decision Tuesday night to cancel classes, sending out calls late in the evening.

Last night, Mayor Fiorentini said he expected there would be school in Haverhill today. But the final decision wouldn’t be made until around 2 a.m., after Schools Supt. James Scully and Maintenance Director Tom Geary had completed their tour of school properties. Officials in other communities were also monitoring the progress of snow removal and local road conditions to determine whether it was safe to reopen schools for today.

At Lawrence Municipal Airport in North Andover, manager Michael Miller said the snow storm didn’t keep the airport from remaining open.

“From my perspective, the timing of the storm couldn’t have been better,” Miller said last night.

“It was all-day long, which allowed us to fight it during the day light hours. It started late enough in the morning that it allowed us to get a good night sleep. And with the storm’s early ending, it allowed us to get to the cleanup. We never closed the airport and we’re not going to close it,” Miller said.

Meanwhile, another storm could be brewing for this weekend, but meteorologists said the weather pattern is difficult to predict at this time. The storm could miss the area altogether or drop significant snow.

Today’s forecast called for sunny weather, with a high near 26. Partly cloudy tonight, with an overnight low of about 10.

The Weather Service expected similar weather for tomorrow, with a high near 27 during the day and a low of around 11 tomorrow night.

More sunny weather is expected for Saturday, with a high near 27 and an overnight low of 14.

As of last night, the National Weather Service was forecasting a 40 percent chance of snow on Sunday and a 50 percent chance of snow on Sunday night, with a daytime high of 29 and an overnight low of around 16.

Staff writers Sara Brown, Mark Vogler, Jill Harmacinski and Mike LaBella contributed to this report.

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