, Salem, MA

July 2, 2013

Storm pulls its punches

Heavy rains cause little damage on North Shore

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — It was a storm full of sound and fury but with little impact.

It roared through the North Shore yesterday afternoon accompanied by breathless news reports of possible tornadoes. The sky grew black, rain came in torrents, but when it stopped, and it stopped rather quickly in most places, the big puddles often drained away in minutes.

State Police reported two rollovers on Route 128 during the storm. Both led to minor injuries, and one of the mishaps will result in a charge of driving under the influence of drugs, not weather.

“We fared pretty well,” said Beverly Deputy fire Chief Peter O’Connor. “It did rain pretty hard, and there were a few gusts of wind.”

Police there reported one fallen tree but, otherwise, no storm-related calls.

Danvers police Sgt. Paul Stone credited the lack of a strong wind with that town’s ability to sustain rains so heavy that some drivers were forced to pull off the road when their wipers couldn’t keep up with the deluge.

“I don’t think we had any problems,” Stone said. “Very minor water issues, which quickly went away.”

Past storms that might not have looked so menacing did a lot more damage, he said.

“Strong winds: That’s when we start to have a lot of problems,” Stone said.

One of the few calls Danvers handled was regarding “endangered” ducks in a storm drain near Home Depot.

Peabody, known in the past for its tendency to flood, escaped unscathed.

“We’ve had nothing storm-related, thank God,” said police Lt. Arthur Yeo.

In places like Route 114, water rose briefly.

“There was not even a leaf in the road,” said Middleton police Officer Gary Lacey after patrolling at the height of the storm. “Nothing went out of place. It was incredible.”

For Salem State University meteorologist Arthur Francis, the impending storm looked like a unique opportunity to observe a weather event that “was going to knock us for a loop.” He was even prepared to take time-lapse videos, given the grim warnings coming from news outlets.

“The way they were talking about tornadoes ... But I didn’t see the tornado signatures,” he said.

Even so, Francis said he was amazed at the patterns that showed up on the radar.

“I’ve never seen conditions sway so fast,” he said.

Finally, what storm there was seemed to avoid the Witch City.

“Nothing but a couple of drops here,” Francis said. “It looks like we just got out of it. It passed north of us and dropped off in intensity.”

Salem police Sgt. Frederick Ryan said that the storm had virtually “no impact” in Salem, with no calls for assistance.

Still, at various times, the sky offered quite a show.

“A nice way to start the month of July,” Francis said.

Staff writer Alan Burke can be reached at