Area towns clearing first significant snow storm – round 2 on its way

  • A lone vehicle was spotted parked on a deserted Main Street in Athol Monday following the brunt of a storm that dropped roughly 10 inches of snow on the region. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/Deborrah Porter

  • Huge snow piles plowed up from the Sunday storm in the parking lot of Hannaford Plaza in Athol nearly cover one vehicle parked overnight in the lot. The storm dumped nearly a foot of snow in areas of the North Quabbin, with more predicted into Tuesday. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/Deborrah Porter

Staff Writers
Published: 12/2/2019 9:55:18 PM
Modified: 12/2/2019 9:55:14 PM

ATHOL – The first round of snow from the season’s first winter storm caused area-wide school cancellations and a two-hour delayed opening at the Town Hall on Monday, with more heavy snow and freezing rain predicted to continue into Tuesday.

Assistant Superintendent of the Department of Public Works Richard Kilhart said Monday morning, “we’re in pretty good shape for the first big storm of the season. Not a lot of issues last evening and into this morning.” He was anticipating more weather activity later in the day and into the night, and during the breaks, he said the crew was “not sitting still waiting for the next batch to roll around,” continuing to work clearing parking lots and other areas.

He said the highway division began sanding and salting around 3 p.m. Sunday and another full crew was out plowing around 6:30 p.m. “The guys pretty much worked straight through.”

Most of the equipment was ready on Friday afternoon. “We were fairly well-prepared to go,” he said. The crew was “ramping up” for another round later in the day.

Kilhart reminds the public of the MassDOT’s cautionary, “Don’t Crowd the Plow” and to allow the DPW crew to do their work. “Folks get their driveways plowed in, but it’s not because we want to. Our job is to keep the public ways clear, and unfortunately that means going over where they plowed,” he said. “Give us a chance to clear the streets and make it safe for the traveling public.”

Some of the crew had taken Monday off for the first day of the hunting season and showed up to plow instead. “They’re a very dedicated staff,” Kilhart said.

Athol Police Chief Craig Lundgren said there was little to report as of late Monday morning. “We had a couple of cars stuck on different roads that needed assistance. It really wasn’t too bad.”


Royalston Public Works Director Keith Newton said Monday morning that everything seemed to go pretty well for his crews as they dealt with the first significant snowfall of the season.

“I had the chance to go out and measure in a few spots,” he said, “and generally, at that time this morning, we had about 11 inches in most areas. Of course, by that time, since the snow had a heavy moisture content, it had sagged some. But we got a pretty good amount overnight.”

Newton wasn’t too concerned about a second round of snowfall predicted for Monday night and into Tuesday.

“I’ve been checking the weather reports pretty regularly,” said Newton, “and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be too bad. It’s retrograde, meaning the back end of the storm is coming around. They’re saying Boston and points east of here are supposed to get the heaviest snow. Right now, they’re predicting about another three inches for us.”

“We’ve opened everything up multiple times,” Newton explained, “so we should be in pretty good shape just about everywhere in town. We’ve plowed and treated. Now we’re going to rest for a bit, then get ready for tonight.”

Asked if he’d had any problems overnight, Newton was reluctant to respond.

“I don’t want to say we didn’t have any problems because I don’t want to jinx myself. Actually, things went pretty smoothly.”

Newton said crews were out treating roads as the first flakes of snow fell Sunday afternoon. “We treated as early as possible,” he said.

In all, Newton dispatched three large trucks, two smaller one, and a grader to keep roads clear. He added that having crews working nights and weekends also adds to the amount of overtime crews put in, “but that’s to be expected.”

The DPW chief said crews are limited to 16 hours on the road. “We certainly hit that from Sunday into today,” he said. “We’re taking a break now, but we’re going to have to stagger crews as we deal with the next round.”


In Orange, all roads had been cleared and were passable by noon Monday. But Police Chief James Sullivan reminded locals to be careful.

“All the roads are dangerous right now,” Sullivan said. “Everybody has to take it easy and go slow.”

The Highway Department had been working since Sunday evening, and were getting ready to start again Monday evening, Sullivan said.

Highway Superintendent Colin Killay was not available to talk early Monday afternoon; he and other department workers were taking advantage of the lull in the weather to get a few hours of sleep before the evening’s work, Sullivan said.

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