THE HIKER in the Square stood tall against wind gusts from yesterday’s blizzard that reached nearly 45 miles an hour. (Colleen Riley Photo)

Published in the January 5, 2018 edition.

WAKEFIELD — Residents continue to dig out from a monster winter storm that dumped at least 16 inches of snow on Wakefield yesterday during the first blizzard of the new year.

Howling winds with a sustained average of about 28 miles an hour created impressive — and potentially dangerous — snowdrifts. The police dealt with several accidents, and had two dozen vehicles towed. The town’s Christmas tree was toppled in the Square. A funeral had to be rescheduled. Manhole covers were lost.

School was cancelled for a second day today as students continued to learn at home. All high school athletic contests scheduled for today have been postponed.

The collection of residents’ Christmas trees is postponed and will be held at a later date. Trash and recyclables were collected yesterday, but if a home was missed, the town’s contractor will take care of the pickup today or Saturday.

According to DPW Director Richard Stinson, crews began pre-treating Wakefield streets around 2 a.m. Thursday. Snow began to fall around 7:30 in the morning and by 8:30 a full complement of 70 town and private pieces of removal equipment began the task of clearing the way.

A lot of people stayed off the roads. Some of those who ventured out, however, encountered difficulties.

Just before 9:30 a.m., a motorist lost control of his vehicle and ended up hitting a guardrail on Water Street. A motor vehicle accident was reported on Albion Street around 9:40 a.m. An oil truck was reportedly stuck in a snow bank on Prospect Street and had to be towed around noon.

A vehicle went off the road and into a snowbank at the intersection of Salem Street and Pleasure Island Road around 1 p.m. At 1:25 p.m. police said a vehicle was stuck in a snowbank on Broadway.

At 5:17 p.m. a citizen reported that a snow plow operator had struck a utility pole and may have caused a little damage. The Municipal Gas and Light Department sent a crew out to investigate. At about 6 p.m. a motorist was unable to drive up Sugar Hill at the Vernon Street intersection because of a windrow of snow.

At 7:25 p.m. police went to CVS for a minor motor vehicle accident in the parking lot.

At about 10 a.m., Stinson said the storm “just took off.” There was a period of a couple of hours when as much as three inches of snow fell per hour.

“You couldn’t see anything from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There were total whiteout conditions. I was driving on Main Street near (Lake Quannapowitt) at one point with one of the supervisors and we had to stop three times because you couldn’t see where you were going.”

At about 1 a.m. today the full snow removal operation ended. Stinson reported that four pieces of equipment were lost, including a one ton dump truck owned by the town. The vehicle suffered a cracked frame.

At 1 a.m. DPW crews stayed to do some cleanup, including the scraping and salting of roads until about 7 this morning. They had, for the most part, worked between 24 and 30 hours straight in extremely difficult conditions.

A water pipe burst at the long-shuttered rental business on Salem Street. The DPW dealt with a sewer service blockage at a local residence and a large limb came down on Overlake Road. Residents and some snow plow operators reportedly helped slow removal operations by blowing or plowing snow into local streets. 

Around 7 p.m. Thursday a powerful wind gust brought down the town’s Christmas tree at the Rockery, sending it down onto Main Street. Stinson explained that one gust was recorded at over 43 miles an hour.

The DPW had a skeleton crew working today as removal of snow continued from town sidewalks, schools and the Forest Glad Cemetery.

Saturday night DPW crews will deal with large piles of snow found throughout Wakefield, cutting them down at intersections where sight conditions are poor.

On Sunday night, beginning around 8, cleanup of the Square, the Greenwood business district and other designated areas will occur until about 6 a.m. Monday.

One ongoing issue will be dealing with the section of Main Street between Lowell and Salem streets. The always-windy stretch called Lakeside will see a lot of wind-driven snow drifting which the DPW will have to push back all weekend long.

In addition to cleanup, the region now has to deal with chilled-to-the-bone cold. Stinson urged people to use caution as they walk or drive over what appears to be blacktop; when the temperatures drop like they are going to, salt on the roadway does not work and those black patches will be slippery.

He also asked that residents clean out fire hydrants and catch basins.


In addition to dealing with motor vehicle accidents during the blizzard, police had seven vehicles towed from the town parking lot on Lincoln Street around 3:40 p.m. They were also told that youths were sledding in a resident’s driveway on Frank Street around 3:40 p.m. and that a plow operator was pushing snow from the CVS parking lot onto an Armory Street resident’s driveway.