EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 8, 2013

HUNKER DOWN

Area residents stock up as storm bears down

NORTH ANDOVER — Water and bread. Cold cuts and milk. Spaghetti and meatballs.

It was an all-out assault yesterday at Market Basket in the Route 114 plaza yesterday as shoppers from across the region flooded the store in search of food and supplies in anticipation of what forecasters are calling a potentially historic storm.

The pending, possible blizzard led to huge crowds and long lines at the popular discount-grocer, where even parking spaces out front were at a premium.

“I had to park down by the entrance and walk in,” said Mari Mendez of Methuen, as she stood in the cold-cut line at the back of the store. “I didn’t really want to come, but I figured later it’s just going to get worse.”

She could be right.

Forecasters yesterday were calling for the storm to drop 18 to 24 inches of snow in the Merrimack Valley, starting Friday morning and ending Saturday afternoon. In addition, high winds are expected to lead to drifting snow and reduced visibility for drivers. The National Weather Service yesterday upgraded its advisory from a winter storm watch to a blizzard watch.

It will start with light snow falling Friday morning, which could get heavy by midday. The storm will pick up in intensity Friday night, when snowfall rates of 2 to 3 inches an hour are possible.

“Travel may become nearly impossible with blowing and drifting snow,” the NWS advisory said. Winds will be out of the northeast at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 55 mph. White-out conditions are possible. The temperature will be in the mid-20s.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency recommended people try to stay off the roads but to be prepared. The agency recommends people fill their gas tanks before the storm, which could cause widespread power outages, affecting gas stations. (See related tips for the storm.)

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