Thursday, Jan. 4, brought the first blizzard of 2018, a bombogenesis that hit Plymouth County especially hard.
According to data from our regional National Weather Service headquarters in Taunton, much of the county was in the double digits for inches of snowfall. Though no data was provided for the official precipitation totals in Plympton and Halifax, several other nearby communities were provided.
East Bridgewater had the most snowfall in the entire county at 16.5 inches, while Brockton and Hanover were behind at 16.4 and 14.5 inches respectfully. Plymouth had the least amount of snow at 7.5 inches. Wind gusts also exceeded 50 miles-per-hour in several municipalities.
The storm caused sporadic power outages in both Plympton and Halifax. Halifax Fire Chief Jason Viveiros said, “It was a significant storm; we had several down wires and blown transformers.”
Viveiros described these outages as sporadic and was pleased with National Grids response. He said, “National Grid was on scene within 5-10 minutes of calling.” Viveiors said these quick responses were a large part of why Halifax didn’t have to open any emergency shelters.
Responses differed in Plympton with the Dennett Elementary School. Before the storm, Plympton Fire Chief Warren Borsari received a call from Dennett Elementary School Principal Peter Veneto about the backup generator test blowing a part.
Initially, Borsari thought the initial problem was just with the transfer switch. However, the generator failed entirely.
Borsari responded and said, “Upon entry, I smelled burning electrical oil…The well pump burned out and caused a small fire in the fuse panel.”
The Plympton Fire Department then posted a fire watch until Eversource could arrive. Borsari said it took Eversource about 4 hours to respond to the Dennett School.
The generator, however, was damaged beyond repair. Borsari said the school cannot have an occupancy permit without a backup power source. He said, “In order to get school back in session, we need a temporary repair.”
The school has a temporary backup power unit in the meantime, so school was back in session on Monday. However, the unit cost Plympton $1,500 per week.
At last Monday’s selectmen’s meeting, Dennett School Committee representative Jon Wilhelmsen estimated it would cost between $8,000 to $12,000 to repair the generator.
The school is also exploring replacing the generator, which he estimated would cost between $25,000 to $35,000.
In addition to damage at the school, Borsari said that sporadic lines went down across town. In particular there were reported outages on Ring Road, Elm Street and the communication tower at 1 Joey Circle.
Borsari said the tower has a huge backup generator. Police and Fire Department communications were never interrupted.
Plympton Town House Pipe Burst
The snowfall and wind gusts were not the only factors causing damage. On Wednesday, Jan 3, the frigid temperatures caused a pipe to burst in the Plympton Town House
Borsari said the water pipe burst in the foyer near Town Clerk Tara Shaw’s office. According to Borsari, a police officer also went downstairs to use the bathroom and heard water running.
The pipe burst caused the town hall to close through January 2, 2018. The fire department as well as the custodian responded for the initial stoppage of the leak and the salvage/clean-up process.
There was significant damage in Town Clerk Tara Shaw’s office. (Include photos).
What to Expect Going Forward
Elanor Vallier-Talbot from the National Weather Service in Taunton, said temperatures are expected to skyrocket into the high 50s on Friday, January 12, 2018. However, the county is also expected to get about 2-3 inches of rain.
Vallier-Talbot said the temperatures rising at this rapid pace with the high amount of snow on the ground raises concern for potential flooding. She said, “When temperatures get this warm with this type of snow, it will refreeze at night.”
This causes the snow to compact and start to melt. Vallier-Talbot advised, “dig out storm drains as snows melt to prevent flooding.”
She said there’s also danger of flooding near rivers, especially with Friday’s expected rain. The recent cold temperatures caused rivers to freeze. When the temperature increases with the rain, there’s a high chance that rivers will cause some flooding.
Vallier-Talbot described this winter as “topsy-turvy.” She said to expect a cold front to come late Saturday night. Temperatures are expected to drop into the mid to high twenties by Sunday. She said that as temperatures drop, some of the expected rain could turn to snow.