NEWBURYPORT — There were a lot of groggy-eyed residents around Greater Newburyport yesterday after a violent winter thunderstorm that swept through the region Tuesday night shook them from sleep.
"We were sleeping, but Mother Nature kept us awake," Kimberly Crivello of Salisbury said.
Area fire departments reported little to no damage from the storm that arrived around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and took about two hours to pass.
It not only brought thunder and lightning, but also hail and about a half-inch of rain.
You can blame the summer-like weather for the ruckus.
"With that heat and energy, it was there to create some nice entertainment at midnight," said Ray Whitley of Salisbury, a local weather buff who reports his town's weather data to the National Weather Service.
That entertainment was the result of a cold pool of air sweeping in and creating the lights and sounds more typical of summer nights.
Whitley said Monday and Tuesday broke local records for high temperatures, with the mercury hitting 73 degrees both days. The previous record for March 12 was 66 degrees set in 1973. The record for March 13 was 72 degrees in 1990.
Tuesday night's cold front brought in temperatures that are closer to the average high for this time of year, 45 degrees. The high temperature yesterday was 39.
The difference in temperature was obvious to the Crivello family, who frequent the boardwalk in Newburyport for walks.
Nobody was out in shorts and T-shirts yesterday, and Frank and Kimberly Crivello, along with their daughter, were bundled up in warmer clothes.
"Tuesday, it was loaded with people; now you can't find anyone — blame it on the weather," Frank Crivello said.
The recent wacky weather follows a winter most notable for its lack of snow.
The region saw three small storms since October, in contrast to the dozens last winter that resulted in just under 90 inches of snow, according to Whitley.
This winter produced 21.6 inches of snow, the sixth lowest since 1956.
"The problem this year is the cold air is locked up in the Arctic and could not get down. When you have storm systems coming from the south bringing moisture, you need cold air ... for us to get snow," Whitley said.
There are no summer-like days projected for the rest of this winter, which ends in five days.