Part “b” of the two-day winter storm was not as bad as expected, said Public Works Director of Operations Robert Lee on Wednesday afternoon, although he still needed to keep crews on overnight as falling snow lingered through the evening.
Earlier forecasts by many meteorologists predicted 15 to 20 inches overall would cover the North Shore between Tuesday and Wednesday with sleet and freezing rain mixed in. That prediction seemed to be on target for Tuesday, but after heavy morning snowfall that left around four inches, the snow had all turned to rain by early Wednesday afternoon. Snow counts by the DPW tallied 11 inches of snow for Danvers between both days.
“It kind of surprised everybody [because of how quickly it happened,” said Lee. He was then hoping to finish up and let crews go home by 8 p.m., but another inch or so of snowfall prevented that. Crews were finally let go in stages – half at 3 a.m. and half at 6 a.m., with only a skeleton crew on to man the department’s snow blower and sidewalk plow.
Plow crews will be out again Friday to focus on clearing sidewalks and widening roadways, Lee said – preparing for the next storm on Saturday. More snow – between four and nine inches – is currently in the forecast with rain mixed in.
The change in precipitation by Wednesday afternoon had also allowed the town send private contractor plows home at noon, leaving the rest of the cleanup to DPW crews.
Lee had reported around 1:30 p.m. that town crews were making gains on cleanup with roads and sidewalks in good condition. He was hoping to transition into “widening mode” on further clearing the roads, but the continuing snowfall through the night only allowed crews to have all the schools ready and the main roads and hilly areas salted.
Flooding was reported in various areas Wednesday afternoon due to catch basins being buried in snow, Lee said. With plow crews still focused on clearing roads and sidewalks, the rainfall was causing isolated flooding, but that problem dried up once the precipitation turned back to snow, said Lee.
School was still in session on Tuesday (but canceled Wednesday) while snowfall began at 8:30 a.m. and accumulated enough for plowing by 11:30 a.m. Lee said plows made sure to have bus routes to and from the town schools clear about two hours later as students began to head home. He wasn’t aware of any problems being reported.
After six inches on Tuesday and five inches Wednesday, the official snowfall count in town was up to 76.5 inches. Expenses were not tallied yet on Wednesday operations, but after Tuesday cleanup, Danvers had spent $691,035 on snow and ice removal this winter – nearly $34,000 over its budgeted amount.