Schools reopened today across the North Shore as crews continued to clear massive snow piles clogging intersections and parking lots.
The blizzard, which dumped 2 feet of snow on the North Shore, provided Danvers and Peabody the first real test of new snow emergency systems meant to warn residents about getting their cars off streets as a winter storm approaches. The communities had previously used winter-long parking bans.
Residents in both communities passed with flying colors.
“We didn’t have one single call and we didn’t have one bit of interference on the streets,” said Danvers Department of Public Works Director of Operations Robert Lee when asked if there were any violators of trial parking rules which ban on-street parking during a snow emergency from 1 to 6 a.m.
Both communities’ parking bans remained in effect as of press time last night.
Salem lifted its on-street parking ban at 4 p.m. yesterday, but in an email from the city, the parking ban was modified to a “common sense” one to keep streets passable for emergency vehicles.
“Any vehicles parked on a street that limits or impedes travel by emergency vehicles or others will be ticketed and towed,” read the email. “We are asking residents to use common sense when it comes to parking on street as many narrow roads and others with high snow piles may not allow for safe parking.”
Salem’s downtown lots were kept open at no charge, and residents were also encouraged to use city garages, with the rate capped at $5, the same rate during a regular snow emergency. School lots may also be used from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. Snow cleanup and removal efforts in Salem were expected to last several days.
Salem police Lt. James Walker said there were no towing issues with the snow ban in the city. Peabody police recorded less than a handful of tows.
“The parking went really well. I think we towed less than 10 cars in total,” said Peabody police Chief Robert Champagne. Some of those involved stuck vehicles that had to be towed out of snowbanks.
Peabody police Detective Mike Crane said not a lot of vehicles were towed in relation to the snow emergency. The Peabody director of public services makes the call on when the ban is lifted, Crane said. A message on the city’s website stated: “Peabody parking ban is still in effect until further notice.” Attempts to reach Robert Langley after 4 p.m. yesterday were unsuccessful.
“It seemed to go quite well,” Crane said of the snow emergency. Five vehicles were ticketed on Harris, Union, Caller and Holten streets on Friday evening, according to the Peabody police log. Four were ticketed and towed on Hingston, Holten and Lowe streets early Saturday morning.
Peabody’s narrow streets pose a challenge when it snows, Champagne said, making it hard for the DPW to push back snow and leave room for traffic. Many of these streets only have room for one car even without snow. The issue becomes one of public safety, as roads have to be wide enough to allow a cruiser, fire truck or ambulance down them.
“Now we’re in a recovery phase,” Champagne said.
For many North Shore students, school was canceled out of concern that students would wind up standing in the street in the freezing rain at bus stops that had not been cleared of tall snowbanks.
Ipswich High’s principal sent an email that finding parking might be a problem today.
“Despite the best efforts of the Ipswich D.P.W. and our school personnel, the inability to remove all of the snow from our parking lots will likely result in fewer parking spaces for students,” said Principal David Dalton in an email, asking parents to drop off students or have them carpool.
In Danvers, notification of the snow emergency started going out on Thursday, using newspapers, social media and an automated reverse call system, which recorded 92 percent of households got the call, Lee said.
Danvers crews were out yesterday clearing snow from intersections and widening roads in the downtown, Lee said.
“I don’t think we towed much because we really beat the message to stay off the road during the storm,” said Michael Collins, Beverly’s commissioner of public services and engineering. “People behaved pretty well, which allowed us to do a lot during the storm.”
Beverly crews were also out trying to get rid of large snowbanks downtown. On Sunday night in downtown Beverly, there were about 10 loaders within a 1,000-foot stretch clearing snow.
“It takes a long time to recover from a storm like this,” Collins said.
Staff writers Alan Burke and Bethany Bray contributed to this report.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.