SALEM — Stores were closed, school was canceled and shovels were at the ready yesterday as the opening act of the new year’s first storm brought snow and wind to the region.
The snow began early yesterday morning, though barely any had accumulated by daybreak. Meteorologist Arthur Francis said the city had seen about 4 inches by mid-afternoon, and 6 inches by 7 p.m., but that the snow was uneven in places thanks to its light weight and the accompanying wind.
“Some places it’s almost nothing, some places it’s up to 8 or 10 inches,” he said. “The snow is very, very light.”
Francis said yesterday’s weather was a “precursor” and that a secondary storm out at sea would likely bring heavier winds, more snow and possible flooding — especially during this morning’s high tide, which could be the highest in recent memory. Frigid temperatures were also expected.
Public Works Director John Tomasz said about 20 trucks were clearing the city’s streets yesterday — about a third of them contractors — but that he expected 30 to 35 trucks would be working the overnight hours, during which the storm was expected to escalate.
“It’s definitely going to get worse,” he said, adding that plow operators didn’t necessarily work set shifts. “They’ll go pretty much as long as they can.”
Schools throughout the region canceled classes for yesterday and today, extending the winter break for students, while other destinations, like libraries and YMCAs, opted to close early.
Although some stores also closed early, many chose to remain open, at least for yesterday, including the Wal-Mart and Market Basket on Highland Avenue, the Shaw’s Supermarket on Trader’s Way, the Northshore Mall in Peabody and the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers.
Also open regular hours was the Winer Bros. hardware store on Lafayette Street, where Ann Brunelle, a sales associate, said business had been steady throughout the day. She said that, in addition to car cleanup supplies, the store typically saw a run on shovels before storms, but that they were in no danger of running out.