By BOB BURGESS
WAKEFIELD — You may not want to hear this but, according to weather watchers, our winters are getting snowier.
With the two and half inches Wakefield received overnight, the town has seen 109 inches fall so far during the winter of 2014-15. While the amount is far form the 130 inches that fell in 1995-96, it is the most snow in the past 15 years, besting the 107.25 inch mark recorded over the winter storm season of 2004-05.
According to DPW Director Richard Stinson, who keeps track of how busy the town’s winters are, the average snowfall in Wakefield for the past five years is 62 inches. Information provided to him revealed that in the 1950s, the region had four “high impact East Coast storms.” In the 1960s there were 10. In the 1970s there were four. In the 1980s and 1990s, there were five each. In the 2000s, there werer 10. And in our current decade, which we’re only halfway through, there have been 12 high impact East Coast storms.
“The weather pattern is certainly changing,” Stinson said. “We’ve had four high impact East Coast storms so far this year.” Those storms dropped 29, 16, 17 and 16 inches of snow on the town, respectively.
Stinson said the average February snowfall in Wakefield is 20 inches. In the month that just ended, the town saw 61.25 inches. Between Jan. 24 and Feb. 14 (which included a 29 inch blizzard on Jan. 26-28), 92 inches of snow fell.
During the fiscal year 2015 budget-setting process last winter and spring, DPW officials estimated they would spend $1,138,000 this winter on snow and ice removal. The town appropriated $650,000 with the expectation that more money would be needed. A couple weeks ago the Finance Committee and the selectmen approved an $800,000 overdraft. More funds will be required.
Since that overdraft request, the town has seen four smaller storms, a hauling operation in the town’s business districts and roof clearing, which the DPW contracted out. The latter work included all the public schools as well as the Yeuell School (that’s rented out to the SEEM Collaborative), a portion of the Public Safety Building and two sections of Town Hall.
Stinson said he’s waiting for the roof clearing bills to come in before he makes a formal pitch for more money.
“And those (roof clearing bills) won’t be cheap,” he explained.
Stinson credited the expertise of Building Inspector John Roberto III as invaluable during roof clearing operations. He also thanked the town’s many contractors, who “have done a great job in what has been a tough winter.”
Overnight, the DPW treated streets but did not plow them. They did plow out schools to make sure the buildings opened on time this morning.
Stinson said crews would be doing some street patching today, as well as clearing snow from as many street storm drains as possible.
More snow is expected tomorrow night.