NEWBURYPORT — Despite heavy snowfall that dumped nearly a foot of snow across the Greater Newburyport area, the region appears to have weathered yesterday’s snowstorm fairly well.
City officials reported few problems stemming from the storm, and both the Newburyport and Amesbury Police Departments said there were no major accidents and that residents largely obeyed the parking bans, making it easier for the plows to do their jobs.
Traffic in general was light as all area schools closed for the day, as did most municipal buildings and many businesses. Amesbury Mayor Ken Gray said that while the heavy snowfall made driving treacherous, he praised the city’s Department of Public Works for keeping both the streets and sidewalks clear throughout the storm.
“They’ve done a really good job on the roads,” Gray said. “I was out getting lunch earlier and they’ve done a good job keeping up with it.”
As of yesterday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported that Amesbury had 7.5 inches of snow at 11:50 a.m., Merrimac had 7.5 inches at 2:03 p.m., and Salisbury had 7 inches at 12:44 p.m. There were no figures available for Newburyport, but an independent measurement at Market Square recorded 8.5 inches at 4:30 p.m.
Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, said the storm more or less lived up to the billing, but once it moves out to sea, residents can expect a couple days of calm before more winter weather moves in this weekend.
While it’s still too early to predict how this weekend’s storm will unfold, some forecasts predict the storm could develop into a blizzard. According to AccuWeather.com, there are two likely scenarios: a one-storm scenario where the storm strengthens and brings heavy snow and winds to an area stretching from Virginia to Canada, and a two-storm scenario where two separate, weaker systems would move through and cause much less of an impact.
The one-storm scenario could be bad news for Plum Island homeowners, who have been battered by a series of destructive winter storms over the past couple years, but the residents may be in luck as changes in the storm’s track suggest that the impact on coastal regions could be far less severe than previously expected.
On Tuesday, Surf-Forecast.com forecast that the Plum Island coast would be subjected to wave energy exceeding 5,000 kilo Joules during the Monday afternoon high tide, compared to the 10 to 100 kJ that the coast experiences on a normal day. Yesterday, those numbers were revised to a far more manageable 215 kJ.