DPW Prepares Winchester for Snow
The DPW were out trying to widen roads around town Wednesday afternoon.
Snow has begun to fall and will continue to fall Wednesday night and finally come to an end Thursday morning, effecting both the afternoon and morning commute.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Winchester is expected to get anywhere from eight to 10 inches of snow. The NWS issued a winter storm warning for Winchester from 4 p.m. Wednesday until 10 a.m. on Thursday.
“The heaviest snow is expected between 9 p.m. tonight and 5 a.m. Thursday,” the NWS said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
Driving on the roads is expected to be a concern with possible power outages.
"Roads may become snow-covered and slippery, especially tonight when the snow falls heavy at times,” the statement said. “This will be a wet snow near the coast, which may result in a few downed tree limbs and isolated power outages.”
According to Department of Public Works Operations Manager, Jay Gill, the town has tried to widen the roads over recent weeks after the last few major snowstorms left the roads narrower than usual.
“When there’s a lull we start to widen the streets,” Gill said. “But that’s been tough. If we ever have an opportunity to widen the streets we will, but it’s been so hard because there really hasn’t been a lull.”
The DPW focuses on clearing sidewalks and school drop-off points first, before transferring the snow from other parts of the town. Gill said that the town is fortunate to be able to dump the majority of its snow at the Transfer Station.
Earlier on Wednesday, the DPW had its larger plow – similar to ones they use at Logan airport – widening the roads. It was along Skillings Road and some of the other main arteries of the town on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for this current storm.
“Every time there's a lull we try and widen the streets,” Gill said. "But each time we start to do that, it snows again."
With all the snow, the DPW snow removal budget is running low. The budget is $400,000 and, according to Gill, that number is approximately around $100,000 heading into Wednesday's storm. But the timing and length of the storm is what determines how expensive a storm will be.
“It’s all about timing,” Gill said. “The best type of storms come in and out and have a short duration.”
But Gill said that going over budget in snow removal is not unusual. According to Gill, nearly 50 inches of snow has already fallen in Winchester. Last year, only 41 inches of snow fell in the town, but the DPW still went over its snow removal budget. Snow removal is the only budget where deficit spending is allowed.
"We’re about where we should be with the budget,” Gill said. “We’re actually probably a little better. Even last year we went over budget and we had less snow. It’s all about timing and how much we need to spend on repairs. If this storm was on the weekend, then yeah, we’re done, but we should be OK for now.”