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North Shore digs out from third nor’easter in two weeks

Mayra Cabrera of Lynn is headed to shovel out her car that is parked offstreet due to the parking ban. (Jim Wilson)

The North Shore saw its third powerful nor’easter in a matter of two weeks on Tuesday, a slow-moving storm which brought more than a foot of snow onto the region, only six days after the first two, which flooded communities and knocked out power. The snow was still falling late into the evening, forcing a second day of cancellations and parking bans.

Lynn

Despite being hammered by the blizzard, Lynn Department of Public Works commissioner Andrew Hall said the city did well in terms of crews keeping up with the storm.

“It’s a lot of snow,” said Hall Tuesday night. “We’re expecting almost 20 inches of snow, so we have all the pieces out there.”
By 5 p.m. Tuesday, about a foot of snow had been dumped in Lynn. Hall said at the time that he expected another seven inches to fall before the storm tapers off in the early morning hours on Wednesday.

The challenge with this storm, he said, has been that the snow is spread out over 24 hours — long duration storms are challenging for everyone, both men and equipment, adding that it was a lot of hours to be behind the wheel of a truck.

Hall said there were approximately 50 DPW pieces out working, along with about 300 contract pieces. He was planning to keep them out until the accumulating snow stops.

He said the roads were good, with crews helped by the minimal traffic, as most people seemed to heed the advice of Gov. Charlie Baker to stay off the roads.

“All things considered, I think we’re in great shape,” Hall said. “(We) haven’t had the high tides and storm surge that were haunting us the last few incidents.”

The city also dealt with power outages throughout the day, with around 1,500 National Grid customers affected at one point, according to MEMA’s outage map.

Schools will be closed on Wednesday and the parking ban remains in effect until 9 a.m. Cars must be out of school lots by 12 p.m. The tow lot will open at 7:30 a.m. City Hall will open at 10 a.m.

Lynnfield

As the blizzard continued, the town was “struggling along” to keep pace with the storm with snow recoating roads each time they were plowed, according to the town’s DPW director.

“Every time you seem to make some progress, another band comes through and dumps (more) snow,” said DPW director John Tomasz. “(We’re) doing our best.”

Tomasz said the wind, although it wasn’t really that bad, proved to be a major challenge for crews during the storm, adding that it was challenging to get the light, fluffy snow down to the asphalt. Every 15 minutes after plowing a street, it would seem that like that street hadn’t been touched.

“Every storm, except for one, this year has been a pain,” Tomasz said. “If (it’s) not freezing rain or sleet, there’s been heavy wind or snow. This (one) is just blowing snow that seems to linger. It seems like these things go on and on and on so it’s kind of hard to deal with.”

Tomasz said the roads were passable on Tuesday night, but were surprisingly slick. But he said most people were excellent with staying off the roads — for the most part, he only saw pickup trucks with plows out during the storm.

Tomasz said crews began working at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, putting down salt before the snow started, with plans to be out plowing throughout the night and working until Wednesday morning. A lot of them will be putting in up to 30 hours, he said.

But fortunately, unlike the last storm, there was no flooding and only one pine tree and one electrical pole came down, he said.

Lynnfield Schools are closed on Wednesday.

Marblehead

Despite the blizzard’s high snow accumulation, the town was spared the major challenges it faced in earlier nor’easters, such as coastal flooding and power outages.

“It was primarily a snow event today,” said Town Administrator John McGinn. “We weren’t affected by the tides certainly like we were in the other storms so that’s a good thing. The DPW crews have been out all day cleaning up the streets so hopefully we’ll be good for (Wednesday) morning.”

McGinn said on Tuesday night that the town’s DPW director relayed to him that the roads were in decent shape.

Andrew Hadden, general manager of the town’s municipal light department, said Tuesday night there were no power outages in town from the storm. There were a couple of minor tree issues, but that was it really, adding the impact was nothing compared to the other storms.

“We were really fortunate,” Hadden said.

McGinn said power outages were a big problem in the first two storms this month with all the downed trees. But he said the timing and length of the storm was probably the biggest challenge, with snow expected to fall over a 24-hour time period.

“(It’s) the fact that it’s the third nor’easter in three weeks and the fact that the crews have been out all day, the length of this storm so those are always a challenge,” McGinn said.

Marblehead Schools will be closed on Wednesday.  

Nahant

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be in Nahant to assess damage done by the first two nor’easters on Thursday, but damage during Tuesday’s storm was minimal.

The biggest problem the town faced was power outages, said Nahant Emergency Management director Mike Halley.

The tiniest town in the commonwealth experienced a few power outages in the Little Nahant neighborhood.

Johnson School will be closed on Wednesday.

Peabody

Whiteout conditions proved to be a challenge for DPW crews as they worked to clear roads.

“There were a lot of times where you couldn’t see maybe 50, 100 feet in front of you, said Peabody DPW director David Terenzoni. “There was a lot of that all day long.”

But the storm proved less challenging than the month’s first two nor’easters, he said. Crews got relief from the challenges of the whiteout conditions because there were not a lot of people on the roads.

Unlike the first two storms, he said there were no trees and power lines down, other than one power line down Tuesday morning, which meant all roads were open.

Terenzoni said all of the city’s equipment and guys were out during the storm, which included 150 pieces of equipment between city trucks and contractors. He said it would be nice to have more city personnel, but they make up for it with private contractors.

The problem with nor’easters, he said, is they just never go away — it looks like things are getting to the end and the storm swings around on you again. For instance, on Tuesday around 9 p.m., he said things were looking pretty good as far as main streets and some of the side streets, but everything got covered over again by a burst of snow.

Terenzoni said he expected the snow to end by 4 a.m. and with Peabody Schools closed on Wednesday, hopefully crews would be in good shape to have everything cleaned up by 9 or 10 a.m.

The parking ban remains in effect.

Revere

Schools will be closed on Wednesday. A parking ban remains in effect.

Vehicles parked on emergency arteries will be towed. Trash collection will be delayed one day for the remainder of this week.

Revere dealt with its share of power outages through the day, but was largely spared from the coastal battering it received in the previous two storms. Still, parts of Winthrop Parkway in Beachmont were closed as the waves crashed over the sea wall.

Superintendent Dianne Kelly made an early decision to cancel school on Wednesday, citing the prolonged nature of the storm and work needed to properly clear the snow.

That decision threw a kink into student plans to walk out of class in solidarity with other teenagers across the country, who will advocate for more gun safety laws. Kelly said students can gather outside of Revere City Hall at 10 a.m. and proceed with the demonstration from there.

Saugus

At one point, about half of Saugus was without electricity. Town Manager Scott Crabtree opened the Senior Center as a temporary shelter for residents who needed to get warm or who were exposed to flooding or power loss.

Tuesday wasn’t the day to get a haircut. George’s Barber Shop was closed for the day but is expected reopen bright and early on Wednesday. Those hoping to brave the storm for donuts, books, and lo mein were also out of luck. Kane’s Donuts, The Saugus Public Library Barnes and Noble, and Kowloon Restaurant were all closed, along with a slew of other businesses.

“We closed (Tuesday) for the safety of our workers, plus the advice of the governor to stay off the roads,” said State Rep. Donald Wong, who also owns Kowloon with his family.

Saugus Schools will be closed on Wednesday and the Class of 2019/Class of 2020 College Planning Night has been postponed to March 29.

Swampscott

Many residents of the seaside town had to cope with power outages during the slow-moving blizzard.

For most of the first half of the day on Tuesday, close to 1,000 of the town’s National Grid customers were without power, with that figure as high as 1,673, or about a quarter of the town, around 9 a.m..

The town finally started to get some relief around 3:30 p.m. when the number of customers in the dark dropped to 247, down from nearly 1,000 a half hour earlier. By 5 p.m., power had been restored to all customers, according to MEMA’s outage map.

The areas in town that lost power throughout the day included Humphrey Street, Aspen Road, Salem Street, Phillips Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Magnolia Road, Beach Bluff Avenue, Shelton Road, Bradley Avenue and Stanley Road — residents in those areas experienced a loss of power for a few hours, according to Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald.

“Anytime we lose power, it’s a scary situation,” Fitzgerald said, referring to the impact on people with medical needs or the general effect of people dealing with frigid temperatures.

“These are serious public safety issues and we have to deal with these issues very carefully.”

Fitzgerald praised utility crews from National Grid, who worked to restore power in Swampscott throughout the day. He also praised the work of department of public works, police and fire crews for their work this past month, referring to their effort during Tuesday’s storm and the other nor’easters in March.

Fitzgerald said Swampscott, which sees high winds and coastal impact from storms, may have seen more power outages than surrounding communities because of its density — the town is the fifth most densely settled town in Massachusetts. There could be some logistics associated with the density of the community that impacts infrastructure differently.

But luckily, this time around, there wasn’t the same problem with coastal flooding as there was with this winter’s previous nor’easters. This storm, he said, there was a much lower high tide, compared to the astronomical high tide from the past two storms, which brought significant flooding. This time around, he said areas that usually flood, such as Humphrey Street, were spared.

But Fitzgerald said although coastal flooding wasn’t an issue this time around, it remains a serious one that town officials have to discuss, in regards to resiliency and how to protect certain areas.

“When we lose a major arterial road due to flooding, that’s a significant public safety challenge,” he said.

Swampscott Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday. The town’s parking ban will be lifted at 8 a.m.

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