, Salem, MA

February 14, 2014

Imperfect storm causes mostly minor problems

By Alan Burke
Staff Writer

---- — It was one of those storms where what you saw wasn’t what you got.

Yesterday’s semi-blizzard looked like a washout early yesterday afternoon. It was confusing enough that Salem turned off its blue light and ended the parking ban at 1 p.m., just as the storm was landing its sucker punch. Huge flakes began to fall, while what had melted earlier began to freeze. Vehicles were skidding all over the road. Pavements disappeared. Drivers were reduced to a crawl, high winds blew, and some began to doubt that the promised rain would ever come.

Traffic on Route 128 backed up, according to state police, when a vehicle in Peabody, somehow, burst into flames. It was “fully involved” by the time troopers got there. Telephone and power lines went down in Beverly and Peabody, with a section of the city near Brooksby Farms going dark. A driver in Topsfield slid and took out a sizable tree on Campmeeting Road.

“There’s been a ton of traffic,” Salem police Lt. Scott Englehardt said. “But it hasn’t been too bad.”

Frustration may have contributed to a car fire reported on Loring Avenue at 3:32 p.m. A driver unable to make traction on a small, snowy hill told police he tried to get unstuck by “flooring” the accelerator. Smoke followed, then fire.

Fortunately, he was able to exit safely. Salem Fire Engine 5 responded and quenched the blaze. That was the pattern all over the North Shore, where the many accidents were largely minor.

For all the disruption, police had the situation under control, Peabody Lt. Arthur Yeo said.

“We’re treading water,” he said at the height of the storm.

The water was probably the best thing about this blow.

Salem State University weatherman Arthur Francis was keeping track of it all throughout. He noted that the storm could very well have been much worse.

The roughly 4 inches of snow combined with the precipitation that fell as rain could have racked up 12 inches of snow on a colder day, he said. The rain came after all and did its thing. If it hadn’t, there would be a lot more ice and snow to deal with today.