Published in the February 13, 2017 edition
WAKEFIELD — February 2016 has turned into a pain in the you-know-where as residents again dug out this morning following a significant winter storm, one in a recent short string that already is beginning to wear on snow plow operators and homeowners alike.
The town received about 7 1/2 inches of wet, heavy snow yesterday and today, but was spared more as the system sped into the Gulf of Maine. Strong wind gusts that were expected to reach 50 to 60 miles an hour were being downgraded in our area as well.
DPW Director Richard Stinson said he and his men are beginning to feel the effects of working long hours to clear Wakefield streets.
Public works crews came into work Sunday around 8:30 a.m. to pre-treat road surfaces and began plowing around 2:30 p.m. They were joined by the full complement of contracted pieces a half hour later and full snow removal operations were in effect basically through the night. When Stinson was interviewed just after 8 this morning, he said crews were about finished.
The DPW then sent its men out to do a full treatment of the roads, and was expected to hit sidewalks around town by late morning.
The wet, heavy snow took a couple of contracted pieces out of commission, Stinson said, and the total snow removal force of about 65 pieces was down by five in the most recent storm.
The DPW planned to do the major snow removal in the Square, in the Greenwood business district and along a portion of North Avenue either Wednesday night or Thursday night, depending on what a forecasted storm does Wednesday. Whichever night the DPW decides to do the work, there will be no parking in those areas during that time.
Overnight Friday into Saturday, Wakefield got another three inches of snow that was cleared by the DPW and some of its contractors.
The Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department reported few problems even though the wet, heavy snow caused lines to sag around town.
Around midnight, two poles came down on Prospect Street, knocking out power to about 13 MGLD customers. Power was restored, according to General Manager Peter D. Dion, around 3 this morning.
The MGLD also responded to various house service calls during the storm and handled reports of tree limbs on wires or low-lying cable or phone lines.
Winter storm warnings were in effect from upstate New York to Maine, where blizzard conditions and up to 2 feet of snow were possible.
Schools around the region delayed or canceled classes Monday, including in Boston and in New York state, from Albany to areas outside New York City. Nearly all flights in and out of the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire have been canceled. In Maine, the Portland Jetport was closed.
By daybreak Monday, snow totals in Maine included 17 inches in Saco and 16 inches in Portland. In New Hampshire, 14 inches had fallen in Ossipee and there was a foot in Berlin. Scattered power outages were reported overnight, and the forecast of strong winds and coastal flooding was a concern Monday.
State officials in New Hampshire and Maine urged people to stay off the roads to avoid whiteout conditions; a number of crashes were reported from Sunday through early Monday, but there was no word of large pileups or injuries.
“We just want to remind people to be smart and be safe,” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said, warning residents to watch for children playing in snowbanks who might not be seen by plow truck drivers.
Lenore Correia, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts, said, “It’s a big snowstorm, but nothing we haven’t seen before, either.”
Maine state offices were closed on Monday, as was the Statehouse and court system in New Hampshire.
In Bedford, Massachusetts, a small plane with five people on board aborted takeoff and slid off a runway on Sunday at Hanscom Field, about 20 miles northwest of Boston. The plane was headed to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. No one was injured. It was not immediately clear if the weather played a role.
A terminal at Boston’s Logan International Airport was briefly evacuated Sunday evening due to high levels of carbon monoxide believed to be caused by a snow-melting machine. Massachusetts State Police said Terminal C was “vented” and returned to normal operations a short time later.
Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said the state Department of Transportation has more than 3,100 pieces of equipment and 700 employees treating and plowing roadways. The governor urged residents to avoid driving and instead use public transportation during the storm.
In northern New England, the storm was welcome news at ski areas, which last year faced some of the lowest snowfall totals in years.
“It’s the complete opposite of last year in terms of snow,” said Rachael Wilkinson, director of marketing at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, Maine. “It’s night and day and everyone is absolutely thrilled.”
The ski area was forecast to get up to 26 inches of snow by the end of the day Monday.
And in Vermont, the governor declared Monday a “Powder Day,” urging winter weather enthusiasts to take advantage of all the snow. Republican Gov. Phil Scott encouraged out-of-state skiers and snowmobilers to stay an extra day or two in Vermont and take advantage of the conditions.
“And while I can’t grant official pardons out-of-state, I certainly hope all will be granted a ‘snow day’ pardon. Visitors can feel free to tell their boss Vermont’s Governor asked them to stay,” Scott said.
Associated Press photographer Steven Senne in Waltham, Massachusetts, and writers Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire, and Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.