EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 10, 2013

Storm lives up to forecasters' expectations

Whiteout conditions late Friday night prompted Methuen Department of Public Works Director Ray DiFiore to take a 90-minute break so he wouldn’t lose any men or equipment in the blinding snow.

“At 11 o’clock, we had to pull all the equipment in,” DiFiore recalled of the scariest moment of the storm that dropped more than two feet of snow on Methuen and several other communities in the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire before winding down yesterday.

“The visibility was so bad. We had trucks running in tandem on the main thoroughfares and they ran the risk of running into each other,” he said.

DiFiore, a former DPW director in Lawrence before taking over the Methuen job, ranked the blizzard as the second worst he’s confronted during his four decade career.

“ ‘78 was No. 1 one. This is probably No. 2 because of the visibility, not being able to continue to plow because it was so bad, the wind and obviously the 28 inches we got. That’s a lot of snow in a short period of time,” DiFiore said.

“For me, the storm of ’78 was a little more difficult than this one. In ‘78, you’re dealing with other factors, cars and the roads. It took us a little longer to clean up. I remember not coming home for at least four days,” he said.

Still, this blizzard will go down in the weather books as historic for the northeast, particularly for the area. By the time it ended early yesterday afternoon, it had dropped 28 inches in Haverhill and Salem, N.H., according to Ryan Breton of AtkinsonWeather.com.

Snowfall totals for other communities provided by Breton included: Andover, 23 inches; Lawrence, 24 inches; Atkinson, 25 inches; Plaistow, 26 inches; Pelham, 24 inches; Derry, 21 inches; Londonderry, 22 inches; Hampstead 19 inches; and Sandown, 23 inches.

Despite high, gusting winds that generated huge drifts in parts, electric power for area communities remained mostly unaffected by the storm. As of 1:15 p.m. yesterday, there were 17 homes and businesses in Boxford still without power, as well as a handful throughout the rest of the area.

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