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Storm was real snow job

Little area damage reported

Recorder/Peter MacDonald
Lilly Ross loses control of her sled while sliding on new snow at Beacon Field in Greenfield

Recorder/Peter MacDonald Lilly Ross loses control of her sled while sliding on new snow at Beacon Field in Greenfield Purchase photo reprints »

Sore backs and narrowed streets were the major legacies of the weekend snowstorm that left Franklin County blanketed in snow but largely unscathed, with police and firefighters around Franklin County reporting little damage.

Most credited the road travel ban with keeping drivers safely indoors.

Friday, Gov. Deval Patrick issued an executive order banning most from the roads effective at 4 p.m., with exemptions for government and private sector workers considered essential.

Greenfield Police Sgt. Laura Gordon said the department had four-wheel-drive vehicles ready to respond to an accident, but mostly helped the Department of Public Works plow crews.

“It was pretty good, most people observed the governor’s ban on driving, which helped clear the roads ,” Gordon said.

Gordon said most local businesses also closed early, helping keep people off the roads.

The statewide traffic ban was lifted at 1 p.m. west of Interstate 91 and on Nantucket on Saturday, and then 4 p.m. everywhere else.

State troopers at the four barracks covering the area reported no major incidents caused by the storm.

“Everybody paid attention to the travel ban, for the most part,” said Trooper Christopher Olander at the Shelburne barracks.

Greenfield Fire Capt. John Whitney said his department responded to a couple carbon monoxide alarm calls resulting from residents forgetting to clear snow from furnace or water heater vents, but nothing serious.

In a delayed effect of the storm, a Rowe man thought to be in his 70s was hospitalized after a fall Sunday.

Rowe Police Chief Henry Dandeneau said Leonard Laffond of 205 Hazelton Road fell about 10 feet from the roof of his camper around 11:30 a.m. while clearing snow.

Laffond was taken by ambulance to Baystate Franklin Medical Center, and from there to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where he was listed in fair condition Sunda, according to a hospital spokesman.

Most roads had been cleared by the end of the day Saturday. Municipal plow crews and private contractors continued to clear roads and parking lots Sunday, even as the snow began to melt on the first of several days with expected temperatures to be in the upper 30s.

The storm, dubbed “Winter Storm Nemo” by The Weather Channel, left less than two feet of snow in most of the county’s communities.

Wind rearranged snow depths, but an unscientific survey found an average of 19 inches in Turners Falls Saturday and between 19.5 and 22 in relatively undisturbed patches of downtown Greenfield Sunday.

Preliminary data from the National Weather Service showed 20 inches in Greenfield.

Power stayed on

Winds were often high but the snow was light and dry, and the feared power outages did not materialise.

Sunday, Western Massachusetts Electric Company’s online outage map showed no customers without power, and a company spokesman said the area dodged a bullet.

“Western Massachusetts Electric was virtually untouched by the storm,” said Mitch Gross, a company spokesman reached at fellow Northeast Utilities subsidiary Connecticut Light and Power. Sunday afternoon, Gross said about 20,000 Connecticut Light and Power customers were without power, mostly in the New London County area near the coast, where Gross said snow was wetter and heavier than the dry powder that fell locally.

National Grid reported less than five of the utility’s 8,651 Franklin County customers without power Sunday afternoon, all in Wendell.

Impact on business

The storm created an early night and a late morning for most local businesses.

While the anticipated snowfall had some businesses shuttered even before the governor’s order took effect, the 4 p.m. traffic ban put a nearly universal end to commerce Friday and many opened late or not at all Saturday.

Some kept their doors open despite the uncertain outcome of the storm and the lack of vehicular traffic.

Turners Falls bar and restaurant The Rendezvous didn’t hang on until the bitter end but did stay open into the evening Friday, according to employee Ginevra Bucklin-Lane, and observed their usual 11:30 a.m. opening the next day.

“We’ve got a lot of neighbors that work here; it’s just a neighborhood kind of thing and a lot of people come here by foot, so we were able to open on time the next morning. We were one of the only ones I think,” Bucklin-Lane said.

Also open on time Saturday morning was Berkshire East Ski Area in Charlemont, where marketing director Christopher Loftus said the 16-18 inches of powder had fully opened the mountain’s ski and snowboard trails and at an ideal time.

“We are incredibly delighted to have this snow storm come as a precursor to the holiday week coming up,” Loftus said.

“It just refreshed the whole mountain with a new layer of snow and opened us up all the way,” he said.

Next week is winter vacation for local schools, and Loftus said the snow will provide good conditions and a visible reminder to ski.

The ski area closed early Friday but opened at its regular 8:30 a.m. time Saturday, although the traffic ban kept non-local business away, Loftus said.

Greenfield hotels reported some impact from the storm, but no major influx of stranded motorists.

“We only had maybe one or two guests that had to extend their stays, because of cancelled flights, but we didn’t see the impact that we thought we were maybe going to,” said Kate Miller, front desk clerk at the Quality Inn, 125 Mohawk Trail.

Jennifer Brzezinski at the Days Inn, 21 Colrain Road, said the hotel had several walk-ins and a lot of guests extending their stays.

Place in history

The storm did not reach blizzard conditions in Franklin County but the accumulation was historically respectable.

Blizzard Josh dumped 18 inches of snow on Greenfield 20 years ago, on March 13, 1993.

Three years later, the blizzard of 1996 brought heavy snows totalling 13.5 inches in the county seat.

In 2001, Blizzard Emily blanketed the county, with 19 inches falling in Greenfield, and 24 inches reported a couple miles north, in Bernardston.

Nearly 2 feet of snow fell in a Feb. 19, 2003, blizzard. Then there was the ice storm of 2008, when freezing rain brought down trees and wires across the state, blocking roads and leaving some areas without power for as long as two weeks.

It took only nine inches of snowfall to darken the county on Oct. 30, 2011, with wet snow clinging to the unfallen leaves, felling trees and power lines and leaving many without power for days.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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