BRATTLEBORO -- Local town employees say many residents adhered to safety precautions and stayed off the roads much as possible Wednesday, weakening Winter Storm Nika's ability to create the havoc which usually accompanies heavy snowfall.
Brattleboro Interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland told the Reformer the Department of Public Works was able to keep up with the storm and plow its light and dry snow. He said it was a big help that people chose to stay home if possible and avoid the eight to 12 inches of precipitation the National Weather Service (NWS) estimated fell on Wednesday.
A little more than eight inches had accumulated at the Reformer office on Black Mountain Road by nightfall.
"It hasn't been particularly difficult," he said. "We're certainly not having too much trouble."
Public Works Director Steve Barrett said the town is broken down into different routes for his department and the highway division's 12 employees and Supervisor Al Franklin were working hard to salt the roads and remove snow from them. He said in the early afternoon the town had probably six inches on the ground and that about two inches were falling every hour starting at about 4:30 a.m. Barrett told the Reformer work for his department begins in the run-up to a storm, as town employees have to ensure all the department's equipment is working properly. Equipment, he said, tends to get dinged up during storms but the crews have done well to take care of the machinery and materials.
"They're doing an excellent job of handling the storm," he said. "They really are professionals and they work hard."
However, Barrett said Winter Storm Nika and the two previous storms that struck in December have eaten away at the stockpile of salt used to melt snow.
"We have a good supply of salt, but our consumption has pretty much depleted the budget we have," he said, referring to the money set aside to purchase salt.
Barrett said his department does its best to stay within the budgets it is given, but he might have to take money from the gravel fund or some reserve funds to make sure salting does not stop. He said he still has an obligation to provide a service to the town and ensure emergency vehicles can get around and people can make it safely to work.
Bart Bevis, the road agent in Chesterfield, N.H., echoed Barrett's sentiments and said his salt and overtime budgets are taking a beating. He said Wednesday afternoon he would have to plow the streets for several more hours.
Luigi Meccariello, a meteorologist with the NWS, said snow was expected to fall until roughly 6 p.m. Wednesday.
"Every snowstorm has its own strengths, in terms of magnitude," he told the Reformer. "Snow is very common in the area, but some storms are weaker than others and some are stronger than others."
Meccariello said today would likely be partly cloudy, with temperatures in the upper teens to low 20s. When asked about a potential new storm this weekend, he said it was too early to tell how bad it would be.
Meccariello said there were about four inches of snow in Rockingham by 9 a.m. Wednesday, but Highway Supervisor Mike Hindes said it was closer to six or eight by 2:50 p.m. Hindes said his crew did well to manage the storm, which produced light and fluffy snow.
"It's a good old-fashioned snowstorm. I'd rather have snow like this than sleet and freezing rain," he said. "With this kind of storm, you can plow it, salt it, sand it and go home. It's easy on the pocketbooks for everybody."
Hindes said Wednesday members of his department were busying shoveling sidewalks to make it safer for pedestrians to walk and expected them to head back out at 3 a.m. today to remove snow from spots covered by parked cars Wednesday. He, like Moreland and Barrett, said many people avoided unnecessary driving, resulting in a pretty uneventful storm.
The budget committee of Hinsdale, N.H., rescheduled a public hearing originally set for Wednesday to allow residents to ask questions about the proposed 2013-14 budgets and warrant articles of the school district and town. Chairman Peter Zavorotny said the public hearing was warned with today designated as a make-up date in case the storm made roads a little treacherous. He said Wednesday afternoon the right call was made.
"I was out for a while today and it was pretty greasy," he said. "It's best to err on the side of safety."
Testimony regarding the proposed 2013-14 school district budget and warrant articles is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., with the town matters to follow at 7. Zavorotny said the meeting will have to be held today, even if the roads are still not ideal.
One of the few entities that will never complain about heavy snowfall is a ski and snowboard resort, and Mount Snow was benefiting from people's desires to hit the slopes. Communications Manager David Meeker said attendance was incredible on Wednesday.
"It's dumping snow on us right now. Things are great," he told the Reformer, adding that the resort was in the bull's-eye of the storm. "It's what we call ‘free refills,' when the tracks you made on your previous run down get filled pretty fast."
Meeker said Mount Snow is coincidentally hosting a conference of the National Ski Areas Association, which brings colleagues from all over the East Coast for sessions about the industry.
He said Mount Snow uses the same type of snowmaking system that will be used at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but the natural stuff is always the preferred choice for skiing and snowboarding purists.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.