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

Winter 2007-08 first snow has arrived
December 13, 2007

Dec. 13, 2007 -- Last night the weathermen were universally warning of our first major snowstorm of this winter season, 6-8 inches or so from just after noon today until Friday morning.  By this morning, the estimate was upped to 8 inches to a foot.  This will be an early-season snowstorm; it's still fall until December 22, when winter officially arrives.

Early this morning I bundled up and went out, did the last minute preparations:  Carted in enough additional firewood to overfill the kitchen woodrack, threw another tarp over Chip Ahoy's foredeck where the old blue tarp had become a bit threadbare, and made sure the dinghy was secure.  The outside woodracks had been covered and the snowthrower was ready to fire up and roll out.  The "emergency" firewood supply alongside it under the lean-to, just a step outside the backdoor, has been stacked and is handy if necessary.

Dec. 14, 2007 -- It was a decent storm, but it wasn't a bad one as snowstorms come and go.  Ten inches of the light and fluffy stuff.  The nor'easter that's due on Saturday night and through Sunday could be a different thing:  it's predicted to be wet and heavy.  It was important this morning to clear away the overnight accumulation immediately.  Hopefully, radiational warming from the sun will melt a lot of what remains, and the temperature today is above freezing.

Grrr, I hate winter and such a waste of time and energy!  I'm just glad I work out of my home office and don't need to commute . . .

Click thumbnails below for a larger picture




Chip Ahoy and Toby Reiley's lobster boat "Firewood" are covered and ready for the snow alongside my house.
Dec. 13, 2007
The firewood racks were covered weeks ago and are ready for anything, though getting lighter already. The dinghy can handle the coming snowfall.
The wood picnic table and furniture were covered and staked down a few weeks ago. The "emergency" wood supply under the lean-to just outside the back door is handy, as is the recently-serviced snowthrower also stored beneath. The morning after.  It wasn't too bad -- so long as you weren't trying to commute home yesterday.
(Dec. 14, 2007)
The plow got here early this morning and cleared out the main lot. According to the Logan Int'l Airport measurement, we got 10 inches of snowfall from this storm. It was light and fluffy, as predicted it would be, so we got right out onto moving it out'ta the darned way.
Barbara cleaning off her Honda CRV. The lot, this photo taken from the street, was well-plowed.  All that remained was clearing all the paths and trails. The multi-paths that I must clear with each storm are intricate.  This one on the side of the house leads to the lean-to, the bird feeder, and the shed.
This path cuts behind the end of the plow's mound and the boats along the side of my house. I carved out a wide space for parking Barbara's and my vehicles, out of the way of the plow when it returns to do its "clean up." The front steps have been shoveled, the vehicles have been moved to a wide space I cleared, and another pass by the plow should get closer to the all-important woodracks.
After a bad experience a few winters ago, when the woodracks got plowed in, I've parked in front of them for protection until the plow comes through.  Then I move my vehicle out of the way for the second "clean up" pass.  

The Boston Herald
Friday, December 14, 2007

Stampede before storm snarls Bay State roadways
Gov call to leave early pours commuters into nightmare

By Laurel J. Sweet, Mike Underwood, Jessica Heslam, Colneth Smiley, O’Ryan J
Photo by Stuart Cahill

Tens of thousands of fuming motorists were held hostage for hours on unplowed state highways and roads yesterday, after Gov. Deval Patrick’s call for state and private employees to leave work early sent everyone hitting the streets at the same time as the snow.

“I can’t tell you what happened,” Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Peter Judge said last night. “People are going to have to examine this. We’ve been planning for this all week. There were no surprises. It’s not like it snuck up on us. From our standpoint, it was textbook preparation.”

Many commuters stuck in the mess - with a total of about 5 to 11 inches of snow in Eastern Massachusetts by last night - said officials failed miserably.

“I went through the toll booth going into the Ted Williams Tunnel. I said to the toll booth worker, ‘Another great job by Massport.’ He tells me it’s not Massport, it’s Mass Pike. They’re all just passing the buck,” veteran trucker John Chez of Quincy said, checking in with the Herald fromthe General Edwards Bridge in Lynn.

“I’ve been a truck driver for 35 years, driven through all kinds of weather,” Chez said. “But for 5 inches of snow to cause a havoc like this is uncalled for and pathetic.”

Gov. Patrick will be meeting with his staff this morning to examine how the crisis was managed.

“The intensity of the storm and its timing during the commute obviously contributed to the difficulties for thousands of commuters,” said press secretary Kyle Sullivan. “Anyone that was caught in that commute would feel frustrated and upset. The governor had a very long commute home through the storm himself.”

The Massachusetts Highway Department said nearly 4,000 pieces of snow-removal equipment had hit the roads.

“The brunt of the storm hit the region just as many people were beginning their afternoon commute, while our equipment was already out on the highways,” MassHighway said in a statement.

Trooper Thomas Murphy, a spokesman for state police, said the fact that “a lot of people left work early ... had a lot do with the congestion.”

“We are experiencing across the commonwealth that people have been stuck, parked their vehicles and walked away,” Murphy said. “We will be towing those vehicles so the plows can get through.”

One commuter who chose her sanity over her car, Sara Marranca of Dorchester, said, “I was in the Longwood area driving on Ruggles Street. I barely moved a car length in two hours. I just decided to pull over at the next bus stop and walk to the T. I couldn’t see sitting there all night. I made a quick decision and hopefully I won’t regret it.”

Other than spinouts, neither state nor Boston police had any major accidents or bouts of snow rage to report.

MBTA buses were finding the going tough with significant delays throughout the network. Commuter rail trains were departing North and South stations about 20 minutes later than usual, T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

Air travelers weren’t faring much better. Logan International Airport was expecting close to 400 flight cancellations - nearly a third of their daily traffic - by the storm’s end, Massport spokesman Richard Walsh said.

As of 7 p.m., outgoing flights were delayed an average of two hours and cots were being offered to stranded passengers.

No such comfy accommodations were available for June Ivey, who, struggling against a tide of traffic on Memorial Drive to reach Roxbury from Cambridge, ran out of gas.

“I had to leave (my car) somewhat parked and walked a couple of blocks to get gas. It was awful,” Ivey said. “I was walking in deep snow with sneakers. This is fine weather if you’re cozy in the house with your family, but I’m definitely not in the holiday spirit. I feel like a grinch.

“There’s fender-benders left and right,” she said, “but the weather is so bad people aren’t even getting out to confront one another.”

Some 600 children were stranded at the Boston Renaissance Charter Public School for more than two hours as snow put the brakes on the fleet of school buses which ferry its students.

“The majority of our kids are bussed in to school and (as of 5:30 p.m.) they have just not shown up. Only 10 of our 24 buses have shown up so far,” said Roger Harris, the school’s superintendent.

“It is very frustrating for everyone,” Harris said. “Our staff can’t leave until the children have left. We couldn’t close early because the majority of our kids are bussed, so the (city’s) Transportation Department directs whether we are going to be open or closed. Not everyone was wise enough to call school off today.”

With a nor’easter forecast to strike sometime Saturday into Sunday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino warned residents that anyone bagged plowing snow into city streets will face fines.

The Boston Globe
Friday, December 14, 2007

Snowy standstill
Mayor says state unprepared as storm gridlocks commuters

By Noah Bierman and Andrew Ryan
Globe Staff Photo by David L. Ryan

Boston and its environs seized up at the first sight of snow yesterday, as an unfortunately timed and unusually intense storm sent thousands of commuters racing from their jobs, virtually in unison, only to endure a gridlock of epic frustration.

The storm did what no commuters could: It arrived exactly on time. Major arteries to the south, west, and north were clogged from just after noon until well after dark, with traffic spilling across city and suburban streets.

The mess caused Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to say that state officials seemed unprepared. But state officials countered that they did the best they could, given the rush to the roads.

One driver, Lindsay Groff , said it took 45 minutes to traverse a single block in Boston's Back Bay. "I kept sitting behind the light," she said from her car. "It kept turning from red to green to red again."

Such stories were all too common in a day when 10 inches fell between 2 and 9 p.m., a record for the date in Boston.

Plows were unable to clear roads because by the time the snowfall had become heavy, main arteries were jammed. Rail platforms were overrun by commuters who had ditched their cars, and traffic on interstates slowed to side-street speed.

While dozens of vehicles spun out, no major accidents, deaths, or injuries were reported, in large part because people couldn't drive fast enough to get in serious crashes, city and State Police said.

"It's the turnpikes and expressways," Menino said at an afternoon press conference. "As one state official said to one of our commissioners, 'We didn't have the equipment to deal with this emergency.'"

Menino declined to specify which state official, and Massachusetts officials downplayed Menino's criticism, saying their entire fleet of almost 4,000 plows, salt and sand spreaders, and other vehicles was out clearing roads.

"We were fully prepared," said Commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky of the Massachusetts Highway Department. "People were leaving at the time the storm was peaking. The state sent people home. . . . It was a challenge for all of us."

City officials privately said last night that they were unhappy with both the state's plowing and sanding and the absence of State Police at several key designated city intersections.

State Police Lieutenant Barry O'Brien said officials became aware of the mayor's concerns shortly before 9 p.m. and dispatched additional troopers to the city. O'Brien said officers had been delayed getting into Boston because they were helping drivers in crashes elsewhere.

"They did their best," O'Brien said of the troopers. "If there's a crash in front of them, they have to deal with the crash."

Frank Tramontozzi, the Highway Department's chief engineer, defended the state's plowing efforts.

"It couldn't have been handled any differently," he said. "We were out there, 4,000 strong."

The city said it dispatched 400 police officers to direct traffic and had 350 pieces of equipment on the roads to sand and plow.

More than a dozen transportation officials holed up in a command center on the seventh floor of City Hall, monitoring traffic and altering traffic signals.

Thomas J. Tinlin, the city's transportation commissioner, said many motorists became stuck on state highways and sought escape routes, swamping city streets.

The bickering among officials was little comfort to hapless drivers who were bumper to bumper just about everywhere.

"People are letting their children go to the bathroom in the streets," said Meg Cohen, 46, who said she spent two hours idling in her Toyota Corolla in one spot on Huntington Avenue.

Unlike some other districts across Massachusetts, the Boston and Newton public schools did not dismiss classes early, and some afternoon buses were delayed for hours while children waited in classrooms.

Jeffrey Young, Newton's superintendent of schools, said he kept students in school because many of their parents work and they would have gone home to empty houses.

Most students were dismissed about 3 p.m., a school official said, and got home several hours later. Boston students attending Newton South High School waited at the school until 6 p.m. for their bus to arrive and take them home.

Young said he did not regret keeping the students, but added, "it would have been nice if the storm had started later."

Many schools decided yesterday to either close today or open late.

What made the storm so problematic was the speed of the snowfall and the timing, said Bob Thompson, chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton.

About 10.1 inches of snow had fallen at Logan International Airport by 9:11 p.m., breaking the old record for the day of 7 inches in 1902.

Eleven inches fell in Palmer, 10 in Wrentham, and 10 in Kingston. Snowfall was heaviest between 3 and 7 p.m., Thompson said, with Southeastern Massachusetts, northern Connecticut, and northern Rhode Island hit hardest.

"What makes this storm consequential was the timing," he said. "That's what this storm will be remembered for."

Governor Deval Patrick sent state employees home before lunch and urged businesses to do the same. Menino asked department heads to send nonessential city employees home at 1 p.m.

The early dismissal unleashed a rush for mass transit that overwhelmed North and South stations, which delayed trains by 15 or 20 minutes.

"We had five trains' worth of people all trying to get on one train," said Daniel A. Grabauskas, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. He said more trains and buses were added to meet demand.

Marie Gomes, a broker who had been waiting for 25 minutes in South Station for the 4:40 p.m. to Stoughton, was frustrated by the relentless automated announcements saying trains were running on or close to schedule.

"I don't mind with the weather and all that," Gomes said. "But stop saying it's on time when it's not."

At Logan, Richard Walsh, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, estimated that as many as 400 flights could be canceled by the time the weather cleared.

Louis Imundo, a labor mediator, sat in a Delta jet on the runway for eight hours waiting for the flight to take off.

"There were some very irate customers," Imundo said of the long stretch inside the plane.

"There were people in first class screaming," he said. "One woman was in tears. My patience was wearing very thin."

The plane never did take off. Passengers were allowed to get off the plane about 8 p.m., only to find that most hotels had been booked. Imundo, 65, said he would sleep at the terminal.

The T was squeezing-room only as elbows crammed against chests and commuters clutched one another's arms to keep from falling.

Judith Chernoff, 83, could not fit onto a Green Line trolley in Prudential station, leaving her waiting to get back home to Brookline.

"Come on. What's happening with the T here? I couldn't get on. I'm an old lady," Chernoff said. "It's just a little bit of snow."

Meg Woolhouse, John C. Drake, Matt Viser, and Nicole Wong of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Matt Collette, Caitlin Castello, Daniel M. Peleschuk, Sarah Gantz, Jillian Jorgensen, and Marc Robins contributed to this report.

Nathaniel Philbrick, author of "Mayflower" and "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex," said he sees signs that New Englanders' storied moxie is on the wane.

In fact, he used the word crybabies to describe peoples' reaction to Thursday's storm, one that set no records, came as no surprise, and delivered the kind of snow, dry and light, that is a DPW commissioner's dream.

"The fact is, once you get used to these modern conveniences and luxuries, even the mildest inconveniences become an epic tale of deprivation," Philbrick said. "Perhaps our threshold will be so diminished [that] our version of the Essex disaster and the Mayflower will be the drive home from the mall in 2 inches of snow."

The Boston Globe
Saturday, December 15, 2007

Weathering the snowstorm?
Whining belies hardy reputation

By Megan Woolhouse

We're supposed to be known for our hardiness, for the way we embrace the elements with stoicism and even a touch of pride.

So what happened?

This season's first snow -- big, fluffy flakes totaling 10 inches or less -- paralyzed an entire region. Workers fled their offices early, clogging highways and side streets. Drivers fishtailed trying to get to supermarkets, only to find parking lots jammed with customers buying last-minute items like bread and batteries. Yet the rush for supplies proved unnecessary. Much of the snow melted yesterday, a sunny, 40-degree day, exactly as the weather reporters said it would.

Nathaniel Philbrick, author of "Mayflower" and "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex," said he sees signs that New Englanders' storied moxie is on the wane.

In fact, he used the word crybabies to describe peoples' reaction to Thursday's storm, one that set no records, came as no surprise, and delivered the kind of snow, dry and light, that is a DPW commissioner's dream.

"The fact is, once you get used to these modern conveniences and luxuries, even the mildest inconveniences become an epic tale of deprivation," Philbrick said. "Perhaps our threshold will be so diminished [that] our version of the Essex disaster and the Mayflower will be the drive home from the mall in 2 inches of snow."

To be sure, parents needed to get children from the many schools that were dismissed early. The snow, at its peak, was falling at an uncharacteristically rapid clip. City, state, and private industry offices were closing in virtual unison.

Still, Philbrick echoed the thoughts of many residents yesterday who were befuddled by the way the city reacted to the storm - more like, perhaps, the way Washington or Memphis shuts down over an inch of snow.

"People who live here should know how to handle this by now," said Yvonne Thompson, a 49-year-old construction worker and lifelong Boston resident who pointed out that meteorologists had been predicting the storm for days.

Joel Geary, an electrician, agreed as he ate lunch at the Victoria Diner: New Englanders have gone soft.

He described Thursday as a "very pleasing" afternoon. He said he left work around 11 in his truck, stopping for a coffee. He made it home to Norwood in under an hour, taking back roads. Once there, he made a sandwich, watched television and left shoveling for Friday morning. It is known as hunkering-down, he said, and it is what people should do in a storm.

People are "looking for something to be afraid of," he said. "You got to watch everything you eat and drink. You can't go to a mall without being afraid of getting killed. It's kind of sad."

Meteorologists said Thursday's storm did offer occasionally blinding conditions, and large amounts of snow fell in relatively short time. Such conditions can prove scary for the uninitiated.

"It was bad," said Roberta Benvenuti, a Back Bay resident who spent more than four hours driving her children home from Brookline. A native of Florence, she said she is not used to Massachusetts winters.

And not everyone thinks New Englanders are becoming wimps.

Kevin Breunig, communications director for the Appalachian Mountain Club and a New Hampshire native, said he's seen a spike in people's interest in winter sports like hiking and snow-shoeing. "People aren't getting soft," he said. "They just want some help in getting started."

They want snow shoe classes and hikes led by leaders. And they want to know which Gore-tex shell to buy, he said.

Not exactly intrepid, considering that people used to wear wool pants and skirts when braving the elements.

"When I was growing up, I was used to snow of a foot or more, and snow before Thanksgiving," Breunig said. "It does seem like less now, a warm trend. It's possible people aren't as used to the big storms."

While some may blame global warming, Boston received more snow in January 2005 than any month since the city began recording snowfall.

Mary Pennellatore, who lives on the same street in Dorchester where she was born, called it a matter of attitude. She recalled that a festive atmosphere surrounded a storm that shut down schools for weeks. People ambled around in the streets, socializing. Kids went sledding.

"Today it's different," she said. "People have to get home to their computers."

Jim Claiborne, a captain with the Police Department, said he thinks people are more afraid of weather because it gets a lot of hype. "Bad weather has become such a big part of the news; people have become oversensitized," he said. "All these things are in your living room now."

Parker Llewellyn, who lives on Beacon Hill, said he suspected that many people overreacted because "there's fewer and fewer New Englanders living here." He said reports of New England hardiness may be exaggerated.

"This was a nothing of a storm," he said. "But I'm from Chicago."


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