SALISBURY — The calendar may have read Patriots Day, but yesterday's soaring temperatures and traffic backups leading to area beaches made it seem more like June or July.
As the thermometer rose into the 80s, traffic on several roads leading to beaches in Salisbury, Seabrook and Hampton backed up for miles throughout the day.
By mid-morning, temperatures had already reached the low 80s and traffic was bumper to bumper all the way from Interstate 495 to Salisbury Beach. Traffic woes stretched even farther as the day progressed, with I-495 north backing up all the way into Haverhill and into the outskirts of Methuen, according to state police.
Motorists found little relief on some of the smaller roads leading into Salisbury Beach as traffic on Route 286 in Salisbury and Seabrook rolled at a slow crawl from Interstate 95
A similar scene played out in Amesbury as Route 110 was jammed at the I-495 merge and well past the Main Street intersection.
Thousands also flocked to Plum Island yesterday, clogging Plum Island Turnpike and quickly filling up parking lots at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.
Newbury police Lt. John Lucey Jr. said judging by the number of people entering the island, it seemed more like the Fourth of July than Patriots Day.
Salisbury resident Ray Whitley, who volunteered at the refuge yesterday, said when he arrived there in the morning, traffic entering the facility was backed way down Sunset Drive and Island Road.
Acting Salisbury police Chief Robert Roy described traffic as unusual for this time of year, saying the beach community doesn't see that kind of congestion until late May or June. Combining the summer-like weather with the Patriots Day holiday, it made for a perfect day at Salisbury Beach, Roy said.
"It's an absolutely gorgeous day, unbelievable. I can't remember a time when it has been this nice, everything coming together," Roy said, referring to the mid-April beach day.