SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 9, 2013

Ready for blizzard's impact

While the Blizzard of 2013 may end up matching the storied Blizzard of ‘78 in snowfall and wind speed, there’s one key difference:

This time we were ready.

Schools remained closed all day in advance of the storm, and businesses and local and state offices sent their workers home early once the wind and snow started to pick up after noon. Up to two feet was expected by Saturday morning.

Gov. Deval Patrick took the rare step of banning most cars from the roads after 4 p.m., to ease the burden on snow plow drivers and public safety crews. The MBTA sent out its last train at 3:30 p.m.

The governor said there were more than 1,000 National Guard troops ready to lend a hand, with nearly 5,000 available to be in place over the course of the weekend.

The worst of the storm was expected to hit overnight, beginning around 7 p.m. Friday and lasting until the mid-morning hours Saturday, with wind gusts averaging 50 miles per hour. Maximum gusts were expected to hit 65 mph.

Unlike 1978, however, when the blizzard caught the region unaware, leading to nearly 100 deaths, widespread coast damage and arresting images of cars stranded along Route 128, the North Shore seemed prepared yesterday.

Every community with a winter parking ban policy had put it in place early yesterday, in hopes of keeping up with the snowfall.

In Beverly, police said their foremost concern was Patrick’s driving ban.

“Lots of people keep calling, asking for us to give them an exemption or permission to drive tonight but obviously we can’t,” Officer Dave Costa said in an email.

Some stalwarts ignored official warnings to close up shop and stay off the roads. An employee at the Super Stop and Shop in Beverly said the grocery store had no intention of deviating from its normal business hours and would remain open until 10 p.m. – and that customers were continuing to stream in well after the driving ban took effect.

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