EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 24, 2013

Predicted heavy snow misses region

Region braced for storm, but moderate 4 inches expected by end of Sunday

By Mark E. Vogler
mvogler@eagletribune.com

---- — It was shaping up as the storm that wasn’t.

Last night, local officials were expecting about an inch of snow to fall on the region before midnight and then another 2 to 3 inches today — a far cry from the foot predicted last week.

“It looks like a non-event to me, but we’ll be ready,” Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said last night, based on forecasts he received during the day.

He was expecting a total accumulation of 4 inches between last night and today.

At one point last week, forecasters were predicting the storm to drop a foot or more of snow through the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire. But expectations of the storm were downgraded to 6 to 8 inches late in the week and further downgraded last night.

The National Weather Service in Taunton was forecasting less than an inch of snow to fall locally last night, with accumulation of 1 to 3 inches today.

The forecast called for last night’s snow to turn to freezing rain before 3 a.m. today, then for it to rain until 5 a.m., possibly mixed with freezing rain after 5 a.m. Little or no snow accumulation was expected until after 1 p.m. today, then rain and snow the rest of the afternoon and more snow and rain tonight.

Even though the storm appeared to overrated, Lawrence Municipal Airport Manager Michael Miller said he and his airport crew weren’t taking it for granted.

“It’s going to be a heavy wet snow,’’ he said last night. “It’s not going to be a large volume as inches, but it will be difficult because of it being heavy, wet snow.’’

Snow started falling on the airport shortly before 7:30 last night.

But Miller was taking things in stride, not expecting he and his snow removal team of two to begin hitting the runways until about 8 a.m. today.

“At midnight, we’re going to do a check to see if we’re going to have to go in earlier,” he said last night. “We don’t start plowing until the snow reaches two inches of accumulation or the breaking action ability for aircraft reaches nill. And based upon what’s being forecast right now, I’m extremely happy that is not as bad as originally predicted.’’