Life Beyond Boating  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

"The Blizzard of 2010"

Click thumbnails below for a larger picture
December 26-27, 2010

Winter arrived in full force early this afternoon, a major nor'east blizzard that's howling, gale-force winds and steady snowfall still. Hearing a TV weatherman forecast "bombogenesis," I set the arm on Chip Ahoy's barometer (now mounted on the kitchen wall) at about noon. It has plunged almost to its peg.  (Dec. 26, 2010)

Barbara's cat, Gilly, watched the wild turkeys arrive and feed as we all await the storm's arrival. With the new cat door I recently installed for him and another neighbor's cat, Ozzie, the two come and go whenever.

The turkeys, no doubt sensing the impending storm, appear to want inside too.

By late afternoon the storm arrived in full force.

Chip Ahoy is faring well, as expected. The strong northeast wind is blowing the snow off the covering tarp, as planned for the winter prevailing wind.  (Dec. 27, 2010)

The birdfeeders are another story. They're plugged full of beating snow. I just got back in from clearing and refilling them, by snowshoes. I could hear the chirps of cheers from the feathered flock.


While the blizzard was still raging outside, indoors with the wood stove blazing life was warm and cozy.

In preparation for being snowbound, I'd stacked the kitchen rack over-brimming with firewood. I'm ready to ride it out for at least a few days until I can get across the yard for more.

The snow ended early afternoon on Monday, so it was time to get out there and start moving it out of the way. In Marblehead, we got about 18 inches by my measurement.

Though a light, almost powdery snow, the strong winds drifted it randomly. The snowblower handled it well, fortunately.

The trail to Barbara's house next door.

A few hours later, I had many paths cleared.

By dusk I was done, in more ways than one -- enough for one day.

There's nothing more I can do but wait until the snowplow arrives and clears the front lot to the street.

December 28, 2010

The Boston Globe
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wild, woolly, and gone
Nor’easter takes its toll on region,
but the timing tempers impact

By Michael Levenson and Noah Bierman

The storm that socked Massachusetts the day after Christmas knocked out power for tens of thousands, flooded towns along the South Shore, ignited scattered house fires, stranded travelers, and strained countless backs and knees with record-setting snows piled high by blowing winds.

But the timing of the mammoth nor’easter, at the end of a holiday weekend when schools are out and many people are on vacation, meant area residents were able to hunker down at home and stay off the roads. And ample warning from meteorologists gave crews plenty of time to treat roadways.

The storm did not cause any reported deaths in the state. Car crashes were minimal. It was, for many, an extended holiday, a chance to nibble on leftovers and let the children play with new toys, or romp outside with saucers and sleds.

By the time the storm rumbled out of Massachusetts and into northern New England yesterday afternoon, it had dumped 18.2 inches of snow in Boston, making it the city’s 10th largest snowfall since the National Weather Service began keeping official records in 1892.

After all data are in, the storm may qualify, officially, as a blizzard, by meeting two criteria: sustained wind gusts of 35 miles per hour and visibility of less than a quarter-mile for three consecutive hours, according to Nicole Belk, a weather service meteorologist in Taunton....

At its peak, during the early hours yesterday, 55,000 people lost power, mostly in Southeastern Massachusetts, as snow and high winds overtook power lines and downed utility poles.

Scituate was the hardest-hit community in Eastern Massachusetts. Several dozen residents were rescued from flood waters in pontoon boats, and two houses caught fire.

Scituate and other South Shore towns opened temporary shelters for 65 people whose homes had been flooded or lost power. But even in those areas, most toughed it out under blankets or found refuge with relatives.

Officials attributed the relatively low amount of overall property damage to the accurate forecasts, which allowed them to salt and plow roads before, during, and after the storm, and gave residents time to get out of the way. At the storm’s peak, the state deployed nearly 4,000 trucks and plows to salt and clear roads.

“We just dodged a bullet here, and we’re happy to say that,’’ said Colonel Marian J. McGovern, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. She said there were about 100 spinouts across the state, but no serious injuries on the roads. A tractor-trailer on Interstate 495 in Westborough overturned Sunday night, spilling some fuel but causing no delays. A truck crashed on Route 9 in Newton, taking down two electrical poles.

The Salem News
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Withstanding the storm
Girls rescued from brook,
homes lose power in winter's first rough patch

No matter how many times we've seen it before, that first major snowfall of the season comes as a stunner. Cars skid, shovels sell out and kids underestimate winter's cruelty....

In Marblehead, the causeway was closed at high tide. Front Street "took a whopping," Marblehead police Sgt. Marion Keating said.

On Beacon Street around 3 a.m. Bill Kinney heard what "sounded like a gunshot." An enormous pine tree had splintered and fallen into the road, bringing down four utility poles and cutting power to eight homes. Kinney noted he'd never seen anything like it in more than 20 years on the street.

Staff writers Alan Burke, Bethany Bray, Chris Cassidy, Ethan Forman, Julie Manganis and Matthew K. Roy contributed to this report.

The Lynn Daily Item
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blizzard brings Greater Lynn area to heel
By Jeff McMenemy and Chris Stevens

A major blizzard dumped close to 20 inches of snow on the region, closing city and town halls as officials enacted snow emergencies so crews could clear the streets.

Flood waters closed two roads in Swampscott for a few hours early Monday morning and there were reports of minor flooding in Revere.

There was also some scattered power outages in Swampscott thanks to a stinging and powerful wind, and reports of numerous minor accidents in the area....

In Swampscott, Public Works director Gino Cresta ordered two streets to be blocked off early Monday morning at high tide between 3 a.m.-5 a.m. because of flooding concerns.

It turned out to be a smart decision.

"At Humphrey Street we had about a foot of water," Cresta said. "On Puritan Road, we had close to two feet."...

In Marblehead, at least eight homes near the intersection of Beacon and Norman streets lost power due to downed poles and lines Sunday night. Crews were at work restoring power to the area all day Monday.

Crashing wind-driven waves took out a section of guardrail at Fort Sewall during the night and carried it into the street.

Fire Captain Michael Porter said at one point overnight the waves flooding the Causeway were coming from both sides, the harbor as well as the ocean side. The Causeway had to be closed down briefly due to flooding, isolating Marblehead Neck.

Overall, however, Police Sgt. Marion Keating, the officer in charge of the Marblehead police day shift, said of the clean-up, "People stayed off the streets. That's really the key, and the snow removal people worked like crazy cleaning the streets."

Bob Donovan came by late last night and plowed out the lot on his way home. He missed a section where I usually park, outside the front door, but at least Barbara and I can drive out of the lot.  (Dec. 28, 2010)

It took another morning with the snowblower to clear out the paths, open up a few more. The photo above is the path to the birdfeeders out back, taken from my office balcony.

The path out to the shed, cleared again, along with one to the birdfeeders in the side yard.

The path between my side door and Barbara's house has drifted over heavily, like waves, and needed some serious re-clearing.

I began attacking the section Bob had missed, but eating into the packed plow residue was tough going with the snowblower ...

I attacked it from the front end but gave up, hoping Bob would be back for his usual clean-up sweep.

Chip Ahoy, behind the mountain of plowed snow.

The path out to the shed, another around the shed to where I dump the stove ashes on a growing mound.

A good example of the wind-driven drifting, with deeper snow over the low ground, blown off the higher ground.

December 29-30, 2010

With a clear path to the outside firewood racks, it was time to resupply the kitchen rack. The new cart with bicycle wheels Barbara bought for my birthday last month is a major improvement over the old cart with its small, plastic wheels.  (Dec. 29, 2010)

I'd loaded the kitchen rack with as much as it'd hold before the storm, but the supply was dwindling.

Talk about dwindling supply, in the foreground in the photo above, buried beneath the show, are the two racks I've already emptied so far this season.

The gale-force northeast wind with gusts to 60 mph kept Chip Ahoy pretty much free of snow, so there was little to clean off.

Bob Donovan came by last evening with his Bobcat and did his usual clean-up, getting rid of the heap of snow out front where I usually park. I'm glad I didn't continue killing myself attacking it!

Chip Mate the dinghy, on its sawhorses and held down with lines tied to cinder blocks, fared the wind and snow well too. We're supposed to have unseasonably warm temperature for the next few days through the weekend, so all this effort will be but a bad memory come next week.  (Dec. 30, 2010)

What a difference a week makes!
Exactly one week from the start of the blizzard
Sunday, January 2, 2011

One week ago at this time the snowflakes had begun to fall. This morning we were in thick fog. At midday the temperature is 49° -- yesterday was sunny and in the mid-50s, so most evidence of last week's storm is gone.  (Jan. 2, 2010)

All those paths I spent so much time clearing of so much snow are down to bare ground. Little of the snowfall remains, but for the piles that were pushed out of the way.

The weather is supposed to remain fair for the coming week, above freezing during daylight -- with another snowfall forecast for week's end . . . grrr.

The front lot is clear, and the wild turkeys returned yesterday for the first time this week. We were beginning to wonder if they'd made it through the storm.

They're back again today for my handouts of sunflower seeds and cracked corn. Gorged, they hang around until a better idea crosses their minds and then wander off.

The path out to the birdfeeders out back, down to bare grass and dirt where I'd cleared the snow.

The First Blizzard of 2011: January 12-14, 2011
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