Cleanup continues after Dartmouth's third nor'easter

Mar 14, 2018

The third nor'easter in three weeks slammed into town Tuesday, downing trees, knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses, making travel treacherous, prompting school closures -- and generally making residents ready for an early spring.

Dartmouth picked up a total of 14 inches of snow in a 24-hour span during the storm, according to the National Weather Service. The storm began in the early morning hours, bringing heavy snowfall and winds that reduced visibility in some areas to 100 yards.

As the day continued, emergency departments fielded calls related to downed wires, trees and branches across town, as crews worked to remove snow from roads.

The Department of Public Works was out in full force. According to director David Hickox, 36 plows were on the roads and heavy equipment was used to clear trees from roadways.

Crews also faced problems in the weather, as at one point a plow detached from one driver's vehicle and the driver ran over it. Hickox said damage such as that can occur when the weather is significantly bad. Wiper malfunctions also occur, he said.

Hickox also noted the weather forecast changed as the storm rolled in. Originally predicted as light dry snow, it transitioned into heavy wet snow as the storm began. With temperatures falling throughout the day, ice build-up made removal difficult for crews.

The police department was kept busy all day. It received 148 calls, a majority of which involved trees and wires in roadways, according to Det. Kyle Costa.

He said officers responded to two minor crashes and multiple cars stuck in the snow. There were also several calls for alarms going off during power outages. Costa said a larger volume of accidents were avoided because people weren’t out driving.

“It’s very good people listened and stayed off the roads,” Costa said.

Each fire district also responded to several calls during the storm.

Fire District No. 1 received four calls about carbon monoxide detectors, which Chief Brad Ellis said was because people didn’t change the batteries in the devices. Ellis said a total of 12 calls came in.

Fire District No. 2 responded to 25 calls during the storm, according to Chief Tim Andre. Crews also helped remove downed trees, branches and wires from roadways.

On White Oak Run, firefighters were called to a house where a tree had fallen onto the roof and went through a wall. Crews removed the tree and boarded up the house, Andre said

“It was just a dangerous environment with the wind and the snow,” Andre said.

District No. 3 responded to 10 calls at the height of the storm, according to Chief Richard Arruda. Most were related to arcing or downed wires.

A tree fell into a house on Orchard Street off of Hixville Road. Power was cut to the house to avoid a fire. The residents weren’t home at the time and the extent of damage is unknown.

Crews also fielded several calls regarding carbon monoxide alarms. Crews spent the next morning assisting people by opening up access ways to people’s homes.

Before the storm hit, Dartmouth Public Schools announced a March 13 closure. Superintendent Bonny Gifford made the decision to close schools Wednesday because parking lots and sidewalks would not be cleared in time.

Town Hall was also closed due to weather and a parking ban was put into place by the town before the storm. Trash collection was also put on a one day delay for the week.

All of the district fire chiefs advised people to remain alert of possible live wires down the day after the storm.

Arruda said the main concern following the storm was wires being down and kids out playing in the snow.

“There’s still a lot of wires down and just consider every wire a live wire,” Arruda said, “Kids are out of school today, so I’m always worried the kids will be out playing and not know the trees are live.”