Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

The Blizzard of '06
February 12, 2006

Nor’easter blankets Mass.

Seems like old times

New England takes the season's first big snowfall in stride

Click on the thumbnails for larger images

It started just after 4:00 am, came down furiously and blowing until after 7:00 pm.  I spent the day inside with my woodstove fired up alongside an overfilled rack of firewood I'd brought in in anticipation.  (Feb. 12, 2006)

We'd been spoiled, lulled, by a record-warm January, so this one was an awakener, a reminder that it's still February -- the worst month of the New England winter -- and more is possibly yet to come.

I was out early this morning assessing the damage; the front-end loader had arrived shortly after 2:00 am so the worst had been moved out of the way -- but there was still a lot of snow that needed moving around.  (Feb. 13, 2006)

At least my Blazer was visible, sort of, and the wood racks had been protected again, making the chore of relocating the white stuff a bit easier once I moved my truck out of the way then cleared it off.

The mountain of snow was between the lot and "Chip Ahoy" again, the usual winter scenario.  My old Windex on a pole worked well as a marker for the plow guy this storm, and the chopping block and wood-hauling cart gave him a range to plow to.

So I went for my "trusty" snowblower, and discovered it didn't work, again: this time the impeller won't turn, shear pins are probably sheared off from some wood I picked up last time out.  The starter was replaced this season after the first snowfall.  I wonder if I'll get to use it at all this winter?

One thing to be said about about shovels -- no working parts to break!  Using my ergonomic shovel (the best invention since the Sears "Craftsman Show-Thrower"!) I cleared the front of the house to the lot, dug out the SUV.

As usual, the next tactic is to clear a path across the front of the house around to the sliding glass kitchen door, for hauling in firewood for survival.  The task looked formidable for me and my trusty shovel.

But you plug away and eventually all that snow has been relocated to where it's no longer in the way.  The ergonomic shovel sticks out at the curve.  If you're in the snowbelt and don't own one, get one, unless you've got a great back or a reliable snowblower!

Rounding the corner to the kitchen door and confronting a big drift, there just beyond sat the reminder of how this should have gone, had the snowblower for once performed as it was supposed to.  Aarrrgh, maybe one storm, someday?

After relocating that drift all the way back to the lean-to, finally I dug out my paths of convenience:  one to the bird feeder, the other out to the shed.  (The abandoned Sears snowblower sits where it quit, this time.)

The job was complete by 11:00 am.  It was time for lunch and a nap.

The Boston Herald
Monday, February 13, 2006

Nor’easter blankets Mass.
By Laurel J. Sweet and Thomas Caywood

As fabled nor’easters go, the Blizzard of 2006 was more Peter Cottontail than Big, Bad Wolf — short and fluffy without the overblown gnashing of teeth.

“The biggest indicator I have of how bad a storm is how many phone calls I receive. I’ve not had one phone call,” Boston City Councilor Robert Consalvo said as of early last night.

“It was easy shoveling. I think Public Works did a great job. The roads were really clear, they were passable. I was actually impressed. I have no complaints today.”

Make no mistake, however, yesterday’s day-long crippler, which ironically eclipsed the coming out of the so-called Full Snow Moon, was one for the record books.

The 17 inches of powder that socked the North Shore alone also buried by half a foot the 11.5-inch one-day snowfall record for Feb. 12 that had stood since 1983.

On Saturday, as Boston was hunkering down, bracing for the worst and praying for something just shy of disaster, only 19.9 inches of snow had dumped on the city all season — nearly 7 inches below normal, said meteorologist Charlie Foley of the National Weather Service in Taunton.

The “normal” snowfall of 26.8 inches for this time of year is now history.

Brockton measured in at a foot of snow, while Harwich escaped with just over 8 inches.

Lest anyone forget, last year by this date we’d had more than 4 1/2 feet from Mother Nature.

Yesterday’s storm “had a lot of fluff factor,” Foley said. “Some people call it a broom snow — very easy to clear off your car, off the sidewalk. The other good thing about the storm is it was a relative quick-hitter.”

The blizzard arrived between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. By 10 a.m., visibility on the coast was next to zero. When darkness fell, the storm was sliding offshore. The peak wind gust recorded in Boston was 44 miles per hour.

Foley said those longing for January’s unseasonable springlike warmth can anticipate some snowmelt by week’s end as temperatures climb to the 40s.

Unfortunately, the shorts and shirt-sleeves weather we’ve been enjoying was mere “happenstance, the luck of the draw,’ Foley said. “The jet stream was on a more northerly course. That kept the cold air up in Canada.”

Neither Boston nor state police encountered any major problems yesterday other than a fatal accident in Boston around 2 a.m.

Other than that, state police spokesman Trooper Tom Ryan said, his department dealt with “a significant number of spinouts and minor crashes,” but fortunately not life-threatening injuries.

“Thank God it came on a Sunday,” Ryan added.

Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, agreed.

“It was Sunday and people heeded the warning to stay off the roads,” Judge said. “It allowed the plows to do their work. Plus, it was a very light and fluffy snow, which really eliminated the threat of power outages. They’ve really been minimal across the state.”

The morning high tide sent the wind-whipped ocean spilling over sea walls from the North Shore to Cape Cod, resulting in a handful of road closures in spots prone to flooding, Judge said.

But, he added, “We’re not aware of any flood-related damage right now.”

Incredibly, Logan International Airport remained open yesterday. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has canceled school in the city today to give road crews extra time to return the streets and sidewalks to clear pavement.

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The Salem News
Monday, February 13, 2006

Seems like old times
By Amanda McGregor

Yesterday's nor'easter dumped 19 inches of snow on the North Shore, giving residents their first chance to break out their shovels in 2006.

A blizzard warning was in effect until 7 last night and snow fell as quickly as 3 inches per hour at the storm's peak. At noon yesterday, veteran Salem weather observer Arthur Francis measured wind gusts of 56 mph as temperatures fell to 18 degrees. Roads were slick and local police departments reported various minor traffic accidents and collisions, but no serious injuries.

Firefighters in Salem responded to a storm-related blaze last night. An Intervale Road resident's snowblower burst into flames around 8 p.m. Crews arrived to find the blower "fully involved" but the flames were quickly corraled.

Most North Shore cities and towns looked like ghost towns yesterday as residents hunkered down and stayed warm inside, not venturing out much farther than their driveways to shovel and snowblow. Tow truck drivers were busy Saturday night, hauling away all the cars parked in violation of winter parking bans. Beverly towed 72 cars overnight on Saturday and Salem cleared about 40 cars, while barely any residents left their cars out on the streets of Peabody, according to police.

During high tide late yesterday morning, Marblehead police closed the causeway and Front Street as waves came crashing up onto the pavement, but those conditions subsided by early afternoon. The blizzard conditions kept many stores closed, including the Northshore Mall in Peabody and the nearby Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers.

Most Sunday school classes were canceled, as were most worship services.

Parents of Danvers schoolchildren received an automated phone call from Superintendent Lisa Dana last night at around 8:30, alerting them that school had been canceled for today. School was also called off in Salem and other surrounding cities and towns.

But most local supermarkets and pharmacies managed to open yesterday, as did local eateries such as Red's Sandwich Shop on Central Street in Salem, which opened bright and early as always and saw a steady stream of business, mostly people who trudged through snow-laden sidewalks, said Red's owner John Drivas.

"It wasn't so bad," said Drivas late yesterday morning. "We opened on time (at 6 a.m.) and a lot of people are walking." While yesterday's conditions on the North Shore were fierce, the storm didn't meet the definition of a blizzard, which requires winds in excess of 35 mph and visibility of a quarter-mile or less for an extended period of time. Conditions were close to whiteout at times with wind chills below zero.

Francis noted the snow's light and fluffy texture helped minimize the headache yesterday.

"That was a lifesaver for people who had to shovel," Francis noted.

The combination of high winds and low temperatures made it feel even colder than it actually was.

"It was your typical nor'easter," he said.

Today will be partly cloudy with temperatures in the lower 30s, according to the National Weather Service.

Yesterday's snowstorm swept the East Coast. As of last night, 26.9 inches had blanketed New York City, the biggest snowfall in the Big Apple's history since record-keeping began in 1869.

Staff reporter Jill Harmacinski contributed to this story.

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The Boston Globe
Monday February 13, 2006

New England takes the season's
first big snowfall in stride

By Michael Levenson and Carolyn Y. Johnson

The winter's first blizzard dazed and dazzled but for the most part did not destroy yesterday, as the skies unfurled a powdery, blowing cascade of white that tempted the heartiest souls to dance outside, sled, or marvel at thunderous waves pounding coastal seawalls.

Thankful for the storm's arrival on a Sunday, crews salted, sanded, and plowed roads that were mostly free of drivers, tow trucks hauled hundreds of cars, police ticketed thousands more, and trains ran smoothly as the state became a muffled landscape of blurred buildings and biting wind.

Authorities, crediting the light, fluffy quality of the snow, said that while there were many spinouts and fender-benders, no one was killed in storm-related accidents, and only a few hundred homes had lost power.

Logan International Airport canceled most flights, shelters were crowded with the homeless, and many municipalities, including Boston, canceled schools today.

For the most part, after a winter of unseasonably warm weather and very little snow, the blizzard delighted more than frustrated, as people invented ways to enjoy nature's fury, some by bicycling over ice-covered roads or parking by the beach and enjoying the ocean's own drive-in movie.

Coastal flooding was minimal compared with other storms of similar magnitude, and in some places what did splash over was welcomed with gloved applause.

In Plymouth, giant waves crashed hard at the base of a seawall near Long Beach, sending spray, sand, cobble, and clumps of seaweed onto Route 3A. A steady stream of cars and trucks drove through the salty spray for front-row seats at the seawall.

Clutching cameras, coffee, and the occasional cigarette, passengers sitting in trucks and cars watched the 6- to 8-foot waves curl upward, crash onto their windshields, and send foam sloshing across the parking lot.

The slate-colored ocean turned a brownish tinge as it churned up sand and silt; the air tasted of salt; wind shook the cars.

David Campbell and his 9-year-old son, Daniel, who had come to see the spectacle early in the morning, got out of their car, then danced and howled as a wave crashed overhead, drenching them.

“How often do you have a chance to come out in the wildest weather?” Campbell said.

Layne and Nikole Shriner walked a half-mile in the stinging snow and salt to visit the beach. They come every year, they said, wearing snorkel masks, ski masks, and multiple layers.

“This is what we do. . . . We were waiting for a blizzard,” Layne Shriner said. “Last year, there were rocks as big as a soccer ball up on the highway. . . . This is the only time you get to see the ocean like this.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Foley said last night that it was one of the snowiest storms since the late 1800s, ranking 11th in state history.

By last night, volunteers reported that 17.5 inches of snow had fallen at Logan Airport, 18 inches in Cambridge and Salem, and 16 inches in Brockton. Nearly 17 inches were measured in Worcester, 19 in South Weymouth, and more than 20 inches in Wilbraham, in Western Massachusetts.

Winds gusted to 65 miles per hour, but because the snow was so light, the gusts did not down as many power lines as officials had feared.

Foley said that much of the snow will be gone by Friday, as temperatures are expected to climb into the 40s by midweek.

State officials said it was also lucky that the storm struck Massachusetts on a Sunday, when most commuters are at home and schoolchildren are safely inside or romping in their yards with friends.

“If this same event had occurred on a Tuesday or Wednesday, this would not have gone as smoothly as it has,” said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

The storm paralyzed one popular pastime -- shopping at the mall. The Cambridgeside Galleria in Cambridge, the Atrium Mall in Chestnut Hill, and the Natick Mall were among at least a dozen major shopping centers that closed, bested by near-whiteout conditions that enveloped Massachusetts through much of the day.

Deprived of food courts, mall cinemas, and arcades, many children headed outside.

At Clarsky Common, a small park in New Bedford, children rolled down hills or hurtled down on plastic sleds as their parents watched.

“I just looked out the window and said, 'Wow!'” said Brieanna Wood, 9, recalling the excitement of waking up yesterday.

She threw sweats on over her pajamas, a snowsuit, hat, and gloves, and strode to the park with her father, Donald Brine.

“I'm the one that said, 'Let's go out and play,'” said Brine, 46.

Some shoppers who braved the blizzard took advantage of the few stores that opened yesterday. Independence Mall in Kingston was closed, but the Target at the complex was open. An eerie quiet pervaded the store, as Rob Decourcey, of Kingston pushed his cart down the near-empty aisles while his 2-year-old daughter, Logan, pranced alongside.

“We just drove out to get out of the house,” he said.

Some amateur entrepreneurs sought to profit from the snow, with a little elbow grease.

Aaron Whittington, 15, and his sister, Makayla, 12, took to New Bedford's streets with shovels and knocked on doors, offering to clear walkways for $10 to $15.

While some enjoyed the storm, the snow threatened others, particularly the homeless who packed into shelters. Workers at the Pine Street Inn in Boston said the facility had more people than it could accommodate yesterday, and some 200 people were standing in the lobby.

Jim Greene, acting director of the city's emergency shelter commission, said the situation could have been worse. Last week's bitter cold may have saved lives of many homeless people by forcing them to seek shelter before the storm hit, he said.

By and large, city officials said they had prepared well for the storm, sending out 5,000 e-mails and phone calls warning residents to move their cars or be towed. Still, some failed to get the message: As of yesterday morning, police had ticketed 4,162 cars and towed 589.

With main streets in Boston mostly cleared of cars by mid-morning, 700 plows prowled the streets, about 280 linked for the first time to a Global Positioning System that keeps them on track.

In the past, city officials had complained that plow drivers occasionally strayed from their designated routes. The city planned to lift its declaration of a snow emergency at 7 a.m. today, ending parking restrictions.

Addressing the media yesterday in corduroys and a sweater, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said he was pleased with the city's response to the blizzard.

“Everyone's working together, and I think the city's moving,” he said. “We're pretty confident that we have this well in hand at this time.”

With the streets desolate, it was time for Wind Blanchett, 37, of Salem, to indulge his passion: bicycling in the snow. Dressed in a top hat and ski pants, he pedaled his 21-speed mountain bike over snow-white streets in downtown Salem.

A native Californian who moved to Salem two years ago, he said he loves a good northeaster. “It's white. It's cold. It's quiet. It's the best time to ride,” he said. “You can see everything: the trees, the houses. . . . It's glorious. More people should go for a ride in the snow,” he said.

He was not the only one who refused to let the snow get in his way.

The Rev. Arthur T. Gerald of Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury had a flat tire yesterday but still made it to the pulpit, a half-hour after the start of the 11 a.m. service. Sixty people came to the church yesterday, far fewer than the usual 400, but Gerald was happy for his “flock,” he said.

“Some came from as far as Salem and Lynn and others came from Randolph but they just want to be in God's house,” Gerald said. “It's like the postal service; they don't stop delivering mail because of the weather, and God doesn't stop blessing because of the weather.”

Today, many schoolchildren will have another day to play: Besides Boston schools, schools in Cambridge, Somerville, and other communities canceled classes. Some districts were planning to wait until early today to decide whether to declare a snow day.

Kathy McCabe, Megan Woolhouse, Adrienne P. Samuels, and Maria Cramer of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Alison Lobron contributed to this report.

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