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February 1, 2013

Weather wreaks havoc on winter plans

Port Winter Carnival, Ice Fishing Tournament postponed one week

NEWBURYPORT — Wednesday’s spring-like temperatures were quickly forgotten as a cold front with accompanying high winds barreled through the region yesterday, knocking down several trees and branches and causing numerous power outages.

This week’s bizarre January weather also turned outdoor winter plans on their head — forcing organizers to postpone tomorrow’s Winter Carnival in Newburyport and Sunday’s Ice Fishing Tournament at the Artichoke Reservoir.

However, as of yesterday, West Newbury’s Winter Carnival was still scheduled to take place Sunday at Mill Pond Recreation Area on Main Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Despite the drastic nosedive in temperatures, Newburyport’s Winter Carnival organizers decided to err on the side of caution and postpone the annual event held at the Bartlet Mall until next Saturday, Feb. 9.

“We took a look at the ice and realized it might not be safe (tomorrow) morning,” Newburyport parks administrator Lisë Reid said.

There were also concerns that the ground would not be very frozen by this weekend and the traffic from the carnival crowds would cause serious damage to the grass at the Mall, Reid added.

Public safety concerns surrounding the Artichoke Reservoir led Keith Stanwood to pull the plug on Sunday’s Ice Fishing Tournament sponsored by the Essex County Sportsmen’s Association.

The tournament has been rescheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10. Last year, the lack of a real winter freeze led the 2012 tournament to be canceled altogether.

Stanwood said he was shocked to see the reservoir go from completely frozen and supporting numerous ice fishermen over the weekend to the area surrounding the banks becoming partially thawed by yesterday afternoon.

“I wouldn’t put anyone on (the ice),” he said. “You couldn’t step on it. All the bank ice is gone. We must have had so much rain start rolling around, the wind ate up all the bank ice on the north side.”

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