Cape Cod Prepares For Weekend Blizzard
By: Michael C. Bailey
Cape Cod is bracing for the arrival of a massive snow storm that is expected to dump up to 18 inches of snow on the region.
“This looks like it’s going to be a significant event,” Mark D. Sullivan, chief of the Falmouth Fire Rescue Department said yesterday, a few hours before heading into a joint meeting involving the Falmouth Police Department and Falmouth DPW to discuss their plan of action.
The National Weather Service yesterday announced that a blizzard watch for Barnstable County and other parts of southeastern Massachusetts would go into effect this morning in advance of the “potential historic winter storm,” and remain in effect until 1 PM tomorrow.
Weather forecasts predicted the storm would begin with rain before the snow begins falling in earnest late in the afternoon.
The possibility of rain is delaying the Falmouth DPW’s road pretreatment operations said John T. Lyons, director of the department’s highway division. “We don’t want to pre-treat the roads and have it rain first,” he said. “That would just wash everything away…we want to get a better grip on what kind of precipitation we’re going to get before we do anything.”
All 31 department vehicles will be out clearing the roads during the storm, along with another 31 private contractors, Mr. Lyons said. “We’re gearing up and getting ready, getting the equipment mounted and the vehicles fueled,” he said this morning. “We’re in good shape.”
Public Should Stay Off The Roads
“That’s my big piece of advice for people, is to stay off the roads once the storm starts,” Acting Chief Edward A. Dunne of the Falmouth Police Department said, stressing that traffic-free roads better enable the DPW to clear the snow and treat road surfaces.
People should take the standard precautions and stock up on food and water, enough to take care of themselves for a couple of days if need be.
Fire Chief Mark Sullivan
Despite the fact the storm was not expected to kick in until this afternoon, the Falmouth School Department yesterday afternoon announced early dismissals today for all schools, starting with Falmouth High School at 11:15 AM. The Lawrence School was scheduled to let students out at 11:55 AM, followed by the Morse Pond School at noon and all the elementary schools at 12:40 PM.
Cape Cod Community College closed its main and Hyannis campuses today, and planned to remain closed throughout the weekend.
In addition to the snow, the National Weather Service predicted sustained northeasterly winds of 32 to 43 miles per hour around midnight, with potential gusts of up to 55 MPH, and also warned of coastal flooding and potential power outages due to the precipitation and winds.
NStar spent yesterday and today planning for a major response to expected widespread power outages, and according to an official release from the company, it is calling in extra line and tree workers to join its 3,000 staff workers to address outages as quickly as possible.
Nevertheless, residents appeared to be preparing for a good long stretch sitting in the dark.
“We’re already sold out of lanterns,” Jackie Cousins, assistant manager of Eastman’s Hardware said yesterday around 11:30 AM, and the store’s stock of flashlights, batteries, and snow shovels were dwindling fast.
“We were busy Wednesday, but not busy with snowstorm-related stuff,” she said, and it was not until yesterday, when the forecasts for the Cape took a turn for the worse, that customers began coming in en masse to grab storm supplies.
“People should take the standard precautions and stock up on food and water,” Chief Sullivan said, “enough to take care of themselves for a couple of days if need be.”
This morning, both Super Stop & Shop and Shaw’s supermarkets were unusually busy as people grabbed cases of bottled water, bread, and rock salt almost as quickly as employees could wheel out extra stock from the back.
The American Red Cross recommends for a winter disaster home preparedness kit a stockpile of vital supplies that includes a three-day-per-person supply of drinking water (one gallon per person per day) and nonperishable, easy-to-prepare food; a flashlight, battery-powered radio, and spare batteries for both; a first-aid kit and personal medical items; a seven-day supply of prescription medication; personal hygiene items; baby food and supplies; pet food and supplies; tools; salt or sand for walkways and driveways; and warm clothes in case the heat goes out.
The shelter at Falmouth High School was as of press time not set to open, but the town’s public safety officials were scheduled to meet again this morning at 11:30 AM to set up the town’s Emergency Response Team’s operations center at the Falmouth Fire Rescue Department, and to discuss whether to open the shelter. The Upper Cape regional shelter in Sandwich, located at Sandwich High School on Quaker Meetinghouse Road, would be opening at 3 PM today. Both shelters are pet-friendly. If at all possible people with pets should bring their own crates as only a limited number will be available at the shelters.
Chief Sullivan encouraged residents to “shelter in place” at home if possible due to expected treacherous road conditions.
The Falmouth Inn on Main Street is offering discounted rooms to anyone who needs to leave their home due to the storm, or travelers to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket who find themselves stranded on the mainland in the event the Steamship Authority cancels any runs.
The hotel will also make available to town workers free hot coffee, which will be available all night in the lobby.
Announcements regarding the storm will appear on Falmouth Community Television Channels 13 and 15, on the Town of Falmouth’s website (www.falmouthmass.us), and will be provided to WCIB 101.9 FM and WQRC 99.9 FM.
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