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Ready for the storm

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Adam Howe, a mechanic at the Greenfield DPW, works on the brakes of a sanding and plow truck getting ready for the impending snow.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Adam Howe, a mechanic at the Greenfield DPW, works on the brakes of a sanding and plow truck getting ready for the impending snow.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Adam Howe, a mechanic at the Greenfield DPW, works on the brakes of a sanding and plow truck getting ready for the impending snow.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Adam Howe, a mechanic at the Greenfield DPW, works on the brakes of a sanding and plow truck getting ready for the impending snow.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Adam Howe, a mechanic at the Greenfield DPW, works on the brakes of a sanding and plow truck getting ready for the impending snow.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Adam Howe, a mechanic at the Greenfield DPW, works on the brakes of a sanding and plow truck getting ready for the impending snow.

“I’m always amazed at how many snow shovels people buy,” mused Steve Valeski, manager of Aubuchon Hardware in Turners Falls, as he watched the pre-storm buying rush prompted by predictions of 2 feet of snow today and Saturday. “What do they do, lose them?” he wondered aloud Thursday. “I’ve had mine for 10 years.”

Snow-related business was already brisk Thursday morning, with a drop-off around lunch time, though he expected things to pick up in the afternoon. He expected his store to be busy again today, as the snow starts to fly.

“This is Turners Falls; a lot of people seem to wait until the last minute,” he said.

“It’s a little bit of a blessing in disguise for the hardware business,” said Valeski. “In a couple weeks, we’ll have to get rid of the shovels and salt to make room for soil and fertilizer, anyway.”

The hardware store was well-stocked early Thursday afternoon, with plenty of salt, shovels, and sleds in the picture window out front, and snowblowers inside.

Grocery stores were packed Thursday afternoon, too, with long lines and crowded aisles, as the early birds stocked up on supplies, should the snow strand them in their homes.

“I know I won’t be going out Friday,” said Deb Carlisle, as she waited with a cart full of groceries outside Stop & Shop for a ride back to her home in Leyden Woods. “I doubt the buses will be running.”

“I’m basically getting fruits and vegetables, and sandwich meat, so I’ll have something to eat if the lights go out. I bought batteries last week, and I wasn’t even anticipating a storm then.”

Earlier in the week, the forecast called for 1 to 3 inches of snow, a mere dusting compared to later projections that envision a potentially “historic” nor’easter that may especially lash the Boston area.

“First, the forecast was nothing, and all of a sudden, we’re supposed to get slammed,” said Jon Steiner, store manager of Food City in Turners Falls.

“We didn’t really have time to prepare. We were able to get some extra milk and bread, but nothing like we’re normally able to do to prepare for a storm,” said Steiner.

Steiner said the store was packed at about 11 a.m., with nary a place to park. He said the store called in extra help for the evening hours, as he expected a rush when people got out of work.

“I don’t think it will be too busy Friday,” he said, though he did expect a few last-minute shoppers.

Home Depot was well stocked Thursday afternoon, with a wide variety of shovels, and plenty of salt, batteries, and flashlights on display, and just a handful of folks shopping.

Back at Stop & Shop, customers had put a noticeable dent in the supply of canned soup, milk, bread, and gallon bottles of water, though the shelves were far from bare.

The Greenfield Department of Public Works is ready to clean up whatever the storm brings, said Director Sandra Shields. Plow trucks and sanders were fuelled up, serviced, and waiting for their drivers.

Shields said the DPW is working on the assumption that the town will get a foot of dry, light snow, which she said would make it easier on the trucks. Retiring at the end of the month, this could well be Shields’ last storm as DPW director. She said her staff is always ready and willing to respond to storms like the one forecast for today.

“We’ve got great front-line supervisors, and a really dedicated crew,” said Shields. That crew will be out there working overtime, cleaning up the streets today and into the weekend.

“Typically, it’s easier for us to deal with a weekend storm, because there’s less traffic,” she said.

Parked cars can create just as much trouble for the DPW as moving ones, though. Shields urged people to obey the winter storm parking ban.

“People will be towed,” she said. “It’s one thing when there’s a 4-inch snowstorm, but when there’s 12 to 14 inches, we can’t ignore it. Especially on the smaller side streets.”

“The best thing people can do is stay off the streets,” said Robert Strahan, Greenfield’s deputy fire chief and emergency management director.

“People should also make sure the sidewalks are clear, and that fire hydrants are shovelled out,” he said. Strahan recommended shoveling a 3 to 4-foot area around hydrants, so they’re visible and accessible.

“Also, if people have gas appliances, or something with a low vent, go out and check it,” he said, adding that snow drifts could be as high as 5 feet. With nowhere to go, gases can back up and fill a house with poisonous, odorless carbon monoxide.

Strahan also urged residents to check the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before the storm.

He said the Fire Department has called in extra firefighters in anticipation of today’s storm.

Whether the storm brings the foot some conservative forecasts call for, or the 18-plus inches the more generous weather forecasters predict, it’s likely to be the biggest of the season. In January, Greenfield saw 14.2 inches of snow, while in December, just 5.7 inches fell.

This storm could even be bigger than the Blizzard of 1978, the 35th anniversary of which fell on Thursday. Though that storm wreaked havoc on coastal towns, it only brought 11 inches of snow to inland Greenfield.

Recorder meteorology columnist Tom Bevacqua said Thursday that he thinks we’ll see anywhere from 14 to 20 inches of snow today. Earlier Thursday morning, he was calling for a foot of snow, but changing storm models caused him to up the ante.

Early cancellations

Before schools closed Thursday afternoon, some had already canceled today’s classes. Ralph C. Mahar Regional School, Orange elementary schools, and Stoneleigh-Burnham School announced they’d be closed all day. Greenfield public schools and Greenfield Community College canceled Friday classes and a historic ice harvest re-enactment scheduled Saturday in Warwick was postponed to Feb. 17.

Also postponed was Greenfield’s Master Plan Community Forum, which was to have been held Saturday at Four Rivers Charter Public School. According to Planning and Development Director Eric Twarog, the forum will be rescheduled.

David Rainville can be reached at::
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

IN answer to your question Steve, I usually shovel out my car then set the shovel behind it, start up the car to warm, go back in the house for a cup of Joe and then proceed to go back out and back over the shovel! I hope this helps.

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