White Christmas, icy weekend makes way for windy week

  • Asher Wool, 5, of Florence, carries his sled up Hospital Hill on Christmas morning Dec. 25, 2017 in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Domeniq Sanchez, 9, and his father, John Sanchez, both of Hatfield, clear snow off of the family vehicles on Christmas morning before traveling to Pittsfield for the holiday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Nick Biddle, 10, left, his mother Mary Biddle, sister Quincy Biddle, 13, and father Scott Biddle, all of Northampton, build a snowman at the base of Hospital Hill on Christmas morning Dec. 25, 2017 after trying out their new sleds. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Morgan Wijnhoven, 9, of Easthampton, begins the descent down Hospital Hill in Northampton on Christmas morning while her father, Rob Wijnhoven, watches. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Mary Biddle, left, her daughter Quincy Biddle, 13, and husband Scott Biddle, all of Northampton, build a snowman at the base of Hospital Hill on Christmas morning Dec. 25, 2017 after trying out their new sleds. Nick Biddle, 10, not pictured, gathers snow to stabilize the sculpture. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Morgan Wijnhoven, 9, of Easthampton, right, braces herself while flying past her sister Juliana Wijnhoven, 8, on a sled at Hospital Hill on Christmas morning Dec. 25, 2017 in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

@kate_ashworth
Published: 12/25/2017 7:08:41 PM

NORTHAMPTON — White flakes fell throughout the morning on Christmas Day, blanketing Northampton with 4 inches of snow, Easthampton with 5.2 inches and Amherst with 5 inches.

Department of Public Works employees spent early Christmas morning making the roads clear for drivers.

“The last time we plowed on Christmas was in 2002,” Highway Superintendent Richard Parasiliti said.

Parasiliti said a small crew treated the roads with sand and salt at 11 p.m. Sunday before the storm. At 5 a.m., Parasiliti called in over 50 people to plow the streets, he said. There are 48 plowing routes in Northampton and each driver plowed their route twice, he said.

“Everyone who has a plow route showed up,” Parasiliti said, adding how grateful he is that people came to work on the holiday.

Luckily the storm was short, Parasiliti said, and around 1 p.m. workers were able to go home to friends and families.

Winds also picked up throughout the day, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a wind advisory on Monday warning residents to expect sustained winds of 31 to 39 mph with gusts between 46 to 57 mph.

“Winds this strong are capable of downing small tree limbs and branches, possibly causing isolated power outages,” the advisory states. “Driving can also be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles. Use extra caution.”

The wind is likely to continue through the week. On Wednesday night, the wind chill may drop as low as 15 below zero, according to a hazardous weather outlook from the service, and snow may also be in the forecast later in the week.

“A coastal storm may bring significant snow to at least a portion of the region sometime during the New Year’s weekend, but there remains a lot of uncertainty this far out,” the outlook reads.

Meteorologist Bill Simpson said the last large snowfall on Christmas Day for Amherst was 6 inches in 1978. Other years, Amherst had a few inches or just a trace of snow, he said.

Forecasters warned of bitter cold arriving in New England on the heels of the Chirstmas snowstorm, speaking of a “flash freeze” as arctic air settled in for the coming days.

High temperatures are expected in the 20s and teens early in the week. The weather service said temperatures were likely to drop below zero by Wednesday night and only reach the single digits during the day on Thursday in much of New England.

“It probably won’t be getting above freezing,” Simpson said.

Despite the inconveniences, many Massachusetts embraced the white Christmas.

“I’m actually happy,” said Dwayne Doherty, as he stopped in at The Tobacconist cigar shop in Tewksbury, one of the few businesses open on Monday. “We haven’t had snow on Christmas at all in the last few years. It’s actually perfect.”

The Amherst Police Department said there was one accident on Christmas morning from snowy roads.

Officer John Chudzik said a car slid off the road at 8:26 a.m. Monday when trying to stop at a red light at the intersection of Triangle and Main streets. The car hit a utility pole and had to be towed from the scene, police said.

Power went out twice in Northampton on Christmas Day. It was first out for a few hours on between the late morning and early afternoon due to downed tree branches and wind gusts from the snow, according to National Grid spokesperson Alison Ring.

Lights went out again around 4 p.m., affecting about 600 National Grid customers, Ring said. The company had to shut power off around a low power line so that a parked car beneath the line could be moved, Ring said. The power was restored by 7 p.m., according to the Grid’s power outage map.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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