First winter storm comes in waves

Dec 2, 2019 by

THE FIRST STORM of the winter made for a messy commute Monday morning. With more snow on the way, Tuesday morning could be worse. (Mark Sardella Photo)

Published in the December 2, 2019 edition.

WAKEFIELD — The first winter storm of the season continued today after dumping 5 1/2 inches of wet snow on the region last night before turning to pre-drain rain. More snow came today, and still more is on the way tonight.

This morning, dropping temperatures turned rain into light snow. Schools were forced to delay their opening as DPW crews and contractors rushed to get the various learning centers open. As people headed back to work after the Thanksgiving break, the morning commute was a mess.

The first winter nor’easter of 2019-20 began yesterday just after sundown and snow accumulated pretty quickly. DPW crews reported to work around 2 p.m. yesterday to salt the road surfaces. All DPW staff were working by 7 last night and a full complement of about 40 privately-contracted pieces hit the streets around 8 p.m. The contractors worked until about 4 this morning, with DPW crews continuing on in the effort to get the schools opened.

“We’re still in the middle of this,” DPW Director Joseph Conway said mid-morning.

This long-duration storm, with its fits and starts, is predicted to bring about as much snow as the town has already received until it begins winding down around 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Conway reported that the plowing operation was “pretty much par for the course,” adding that less rain fell than was originally predicted. Still, the snow was wet and heavy, which caused traction issues with some pieces of both town-owned and private equipment.

“Round 2” of the winter storm, as Conway described it, is expected to impact tomorrow’s morning commute.

While the DPW dealt with the first storm of the season, so too did police and local tow companies. A total of 15 vehicles impeding snow removal were towed from the following streets: Bennett Street, Hamilton Road, Jefferson Road, Chestnut Street, Franklin Street, Albion Street, Sweetser Street, Lawrence Street, Pearl Street, Prospect Street and Beebe Lane.

Last night, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) advised the public that the National Weather Service had a winter storm warning posted through to Monday, December 2 due to the storm which began early yesterday afternoon in western Massachusetts and which progressed east, most severely impacting the counties of Franklin, Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden, Middlesex and Worcester. During this storm, snow fall rates are as much as 1-2 inches per hour in many areas.  As of 8:30 p.m., MassDOT had deployed more than 2,300 pieces of equipment in ice and snow operations and speed restrictions were in place on I-90, I-91 and I-291.

“The Commonwealth’s transportation and public safety offices have been working around the clock to prepare for the coming weather,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Drivers should use caution tonight and avoid traveling in areas of heavy snowfall, and we ask that members of the public also plan ahead and anticipate their commutes will be impacted on Monday and Tuesday by this winter weather.”

“We have worked collaboratively with our state and local partners to ensure that we are all fully prepared for this winter season,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “MassDOT and MBTA crews have been deployed and stand ready to provide assistance as needed to cities and towns with snow removal clean-up efforts that will help individuals safely reach their destinations.”

“MassDOT and MBTA are continuing to work hard to treat and plow roadways, clear train tracks, and conduct storm management operations across the state,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “We are actively monitoring the storm and encouraging individuals to stay off the roads if possible. If you must travel on Monday morning, plan ahead, allow plenty of extra time for your trip and take it slow.”

“MassDOT has available to use 3,900 pieces of state and vendor equipment and so far today has deployed more than 2,300,” said MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “We are working steadily to keep roadways clear across the Commonwealth, and will continue to deploy additional equipment as warranted. In addition to closely monitoring the storm that is currently taking place, we encourage individuals to pay careful attention to the subsequent storm system which is anticipated to develop late Monday and may impact the Monday afternoon commute.”

MassDOT’s ice and snow operations were deployed throughout the Commonwealth. Highway districts always conduct preparation activities in advance of new weather systems and pretreat roadways with brine and magnesium chloride when necessary. In the most severe storms, MassDOT’s Highway Division utilizes up to 700 personnel to perform snow and ice removal operations on more than 15,000 lane miles of roadway throughout the Commonwealth. This winter, MassDOT will have approximately 3,900 pieces of state and vendor equipment available throughout the duration of winter storms using over 150 depots and storage locations. This includes over 1,400 plow and spreader combos, 2,100 plows, and 460 front-end loaders.

“Despite the forecast, the MBTA is expecting to provide regularly scheduled service for the duration of the storm,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “While MBTA crews will be working around the clock to stay ahead of any snow and ice buildup, we want to remind our customers to stay connected with us for the latest service information to make safe, informed travel decisions.”

The winter weather is impacting the MBTA’s service area now and is expected to last throughout today.

Because of the estimated variations in snow accumulation, the MBTA is reminding customers to stay connected for the most up-to-date service information:

· Sign up for T Alerts;

· Check MBTA.com/winter;

· Follow @MBTA and @MBTA_CR on Twitter;

· Download the Transit app or the MBTA commuter rail app;

In the event the weather affects MBTA bus service, customers should check mbta.com/bus and snow routes. While the MBTA will be deploying teams around the system to pre-treat station platforms and certain bus stops to prevent against the buildup of ice, customers are urged to exercise caution and be mindful of the potential for icy conditions.

While the MBTA is not planning any schedule changes for The RIDE, customers should be aware that snowy conditions may impact driving conditions, which could affect pick-up and drop-off times. In addition, snow accumulation may affect drivers’ ability to gain safe access to locations not plowed or shoveled. For information on individual trips, customers can call The RIDE Access Center (TRAC) at 844-427-7433.

For the most up-to-date information on transportation impacts, please follow on Twitter: @MassDOT @MBTA @MBTA_CR, and @MassRMV.

For updates on road and traffic conditions in Massachusetts, drivers can:

• Dial 511 before heading out onto the roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.

• Visit www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.

• Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.

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