, Salem, MA

January 4, 2014

Region digs out

Storm causes flooding in areas, minor accidents


---- — SALEM — Residents across the region spent yesterday shoveling and plowing their way out from under up to 2 feet of snow, but authorities said it was largely a smooth process, and there were no major incidents.

Salem meteorologist Arthur Francis said the city got a total of 15 inches of snow — 8.7 inches on Thursday and 6.3 inches yesterday — and temperatures dropped to zero the night before last, with wind-chill temperatures reaching minus-20.

In terms of snow accumulation, Boxford led the area with 23.8 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Nevertheless, Boxford police dispatcher Ron Dole said yesterday that there had been “no real incidents to speak of.”

“It’s very, very quiet,” Dole said.

Salem DPW director John Tomasz said the multi-day cleanup had gone well, though the Ice Melt the city had used didn’t work like it should have due to the extremely low temperatures. The department planned on deploying trucks again this morning to put more on the streets.

After the snow, authorities were particularly concerned about the 12:19 p.m. high tide, but Salem Harbormaster Bill McHugh said the city didn’t see any coastal flooding.

“It was remarkably quiet,” McHugh said. “Other than having to clean up some white stuff, I think we made out pretty well.”

Marblehead wasn’t as lucky, with surging waves forcing the closure of the causeway leading to Marblehead Neck, a section of Front Street and Atlantic Avenue near the town line with Swampscott. Also closed was Ocean Avenue, where large rocks had been thrown into the roadway, and Doakes Lane, which had been rendered nearly impassable by flooding. Most roads were reopened by 3 p.m.

Swampscott also saw flooding as a result of the very high tide, and sections of Atlantic Avenue, Puritan Road and Humphrey Street were closed for about two hours. DPW Director Gino Cresta said the problem wasn’t just the water in the roadways, but everything it brought with it.

“Rocks, sand, lobster traps, the whole gamut,” Cresta said.

Police across the area spent the storm ticketing and towing vehicles in violation of snow bans, responding to numerous reports of minor accidents and dealing with the typical hodgepodge of storm-related complaints.

One troublesome area in Salem was the section of Bridge Street near North Street, where 11/2 feet of floodwater made travel difficult. One vehicle was rear-ended by another’s plow there about 12:45 p.m., after the first driver stopped suddenly at the sight of water, according to the police incident log. There was only minor damage, and no injuries were reported.

That section of Bridge Street also caused trouble for another motorist, who reported about a half-hour later that her vehicle began to smoke after she drove through it. The vehicle eventually stalled in front of 20 Highland Ave., where police found it. The woman arranged for a private tow.

Two disputes over snow brought Salem police to Symonds Street and Ocean Avenue in the early afternoon, and Beverly police responded to a dispute about shoveling between neighbors at 34 Story Ave. about 9:15 a.m.

In Peabody, police responded to a report that somebody’s neighbor on Irving Street was snow blowing the driveway at 3:45 a.m. yesterday, according to the log. Police spoke with the people responsible and wrote later: “They are finishing up and leaving the area.”

At least some people seemed to be having fun with the storm, if two reports Peabody police received later in the day were any indication. The first caller complained at 12:56 p.m. that somebody was driving a snowmobile erratically on Donegal Road; the second reported 12 minutes later that somebody was towing a sled from an ATV near 10 Downing Road.

An officer found the snowmobiler and advised him against driving it on the roadway, but police were unable to locate the ATV.

Paul Leighton contributed to this report.

Neil Dempsey can be reached at

Snow totals Boxford 23.8 Topsfield 23.5 Hamilton 18.5 Swampscott 16.1 Salem 15.0 Lynn 15.0 Beverly 14.0 Marblehead 12.5 Peabody 12.0 Gloucester 11.0 Source: National Weather Service