, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 28, 2012

Wet and wild

Region soaked with 3.89 inches of wind-swept rain

NEWBURYPORT — Flooded roads, wet feet and white-knuckle driving were the norm yesterday after a powerful winter storm dumped several inches of rain and a dusting of snow on Greater Newburyport.

Snow lovers were mostly disappointed as temperatures remained well above freezing for most of the day before the thermometer dipped low enough to drop a few snowflakes starting around dinnertime. It was a different story for communities west and north of Boston that received mostly snow, making yesterday’s storm one of the whitest this season for them.

Salisbury resident Ray Whitley, who monitors weather conditions for the National Weather Service, said 3.89 inches of rain fell in the region from 8 p.m. Wednesday until almost 8 p.m. yesterday. Had it been cold enough for snow, the region would have experienced more than 2 feet of snow, he said.

The highest wind gust recorded in Salisbury was 35 mph around 2 p.m. yesterday, according to Whitley.

Perhaps the heaviest rain came earlier in the day during the region’s first high tide yesterday morning, leading to pockets of flooding that closed roads and stranded motorists.

No area seemed to be more affected by the combination of high tide and driving rain than Salisbury, which saw two main streets, Beach Road and Ferry Road, closed for hours.

Robin Weisenstein, the manager of Michael’s Ocean Front Motel on Salisbury Beach, reported the beach access next to the property was washing away by late-morning yesterday. The area outside the property at 40 Central Ave., next to Blue Ocean Music Hall, was so badly flooded it was difficult leaving the area by car, she said.

“Beach access right here at our entryway is just destroyed,” Weisenstein said. “We’re losing our beach badly. We’re ending up flooding right down to Central Avenue.”

Weisenstein said the situation yesterday was twice as bad as what she experienced during Hurricane Sandy in October, when it took four days to shovel all the sand that washed into the hotel’s parking lot back onto the beach. She worried about having the property cleaned up and the parking lot cleared in time for New Year’s Eve guests on Monday,

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