After a double whammy of wild winter weather, the region has seen just about every form of precipitation imaginable since Thursday, Feb. 9, forcing three straight school day cancellations and adding to the cost of snow removal efforts in Whitman and Hanson.
Whitman DPW’s Highway/Park Superintendent Bruce Martin said he is still calculating the cost since Feb. 9, but Town Administraror Frank Lynam said Tuesday that he has already authorized deficit spending for snow removal.
“We had contractors in Sunday night,” Martin said, noting a lot of salt was also used on the streets. “It’s expensive.”
“The slush is tough because the plows don’t scrape it as good, you almost need a squeegie,” he said. “It’s harder to push, it’s harder for the sidewalk snowblower to clean — everything is harder because it’s wet an slushy.”
“Ballpark cost of [cleanup has been] $30,000 not counting fuel, salaries and material,” Hanson Town Administrator Michael McCue said Monday. The $30,000 paid for outside contractors, according to McCue.
Martin said he keeps an unofficial snowfall log for his own reference and the town is up to 55 inches of snow for the season, a figure that is slightly above average, which is in the “high 40s.”
“Even last year — people think last year was a down winter, but we were actually right above average with 51 inches,” Martin said.
On the roads, police and fire departments responded to numerous reports of accidents and stuck vehicles.
State officials also wanted people to take their time going to work Monday morning to allow crews a chance to clear the roads after the second round of snow, slush and ice hit the state Sunday.
On Sunday night, Gov. Charlie Baker called for an 11 a.m. start time for some state employees, as did the state Senate and House of Representatives.
On Sunday night, Baker said the two-part storm that was expected to stretch into midday Monday was “more unpredictable” than last Thursday’s storm and that he wanted to wait until the picture came into better view before deciding whether to delay or cancel work for state employees. The National Weather Service on Sunday issued a winter storm warning for most of Massachusetts and warned of strong, damaging winds and the possibility of power outages Monday.
The wind associated with the Feb. 9 storm had already proved damaging to the home of a Hanson family.
“Our East Washington Street house was hit by a large pine tree during the peak of the [Thursday, Feb. 9] storm,” said Express photographer Stephanie Spyropoulos. “There were a few loud booms at the time reported as thundersnow by the weather forecasters.”
She described the situation as “scary, loud and chaotic for a short period of time” as police and firefighters arrived assessing the damage and the downed wires. No injuries were reported.
One large limb and several smaller punctures occurred when the tree fell striking the front of the cape style home. A smaller tree which was also crushed may have absorbed some of the weight of the pine.
The roof was boarded up by Sunday afternoon and ready for the next round of snow.
Heavy winds returned on Monday afternoon as those not working or clearing snow headed out to play in it. Neon sleds, snow pants and matching hats were like brightly colored gum drops standing out in the snow banks at the Whitman Park on Monday. Still, the hill was not as busy as normal.
The wind was blowing in full force and picked up speed Monday at noon as a small crowd of teens braved the cold on a snow day to take a few runs down the hill at Whitman Park. However families with smaller children who were red faced and chilled to the bone were making the last few steps as parents began to pack sleds and wet jackets in the cars.
Carrying her infant Dylan in a baby carrier on her chest Tammy Bengin of Whitman walked her two dogs both Siberian Huskies along the Whitman Park.
Despite the cold she bundles up and heads out because the dogs need to get out and they love the cold, she said. She doesn’t love the winter weather but said that in spring you will see her walking and making tracks across Whitman.
Staff writers Tracy F. Seelye and Stephanie Spyropoulos and State House News Service writer Colin Young contributed to this report.