SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 19, 2014

Enough already?

Timing of several of this year's storms worse than accumulation

It might be a winter wonderland out there, but what most people are wondering is when will it end?

Winter on the North Shore has put 2014 in the running for the gold medal in snow accumulation, at least based on recent history. Meanwhile, roads have become forbidding, and snow removal budget deficits are mounting. Schools face lost days that will have to be made up. Parents are tearing their hair out.

But even an ill wind blows snow good to someone. Sleds are selling fast.

Salem State University weather expert Arthur Francis charts the snow year by year, going back over a decade to remind us that it could be worse.

As of yesterday, the total snow in Salem for this winter was 64.7 inches. You don’t have to go back very far to get to a year that almost doubled that total: 2005, when the measurement was 118.1, he said.

“2005 is the highest we’ve had since I’ve been keeping records,” Francis said.

Of course, that 2005 total includes March, and we haven’t seen March yet. It’s a month that can pack a wallop. For that matter, we’ve even gotten snowstorms in April.

Less important than mere inches is the impact. And Salem police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski pointed out that this season the snow has been making each flake count against us.

“This year, we’ve had more snow at the wrong time,” during rush hours, in the morning and late afternoon, he said. While his standard advice in storms is simple — stay home — these conditions have been ideal for luring drivers to go about their business and then snowing on their parade.

“The accident rate has gone up, especially the last few snowstorms. Last week, we had five accidents in an hour’s time,” Prosniewski said. One of those, at the Beverly-Salem Bridge, contributed to a huge backup.

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