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News > Nor'easter dumps nearly two feet of snow on Westover
Snow covered Westover
Snow piles high near the Westover conference center and the water tower. (US Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe)
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Nor'easter dumps nearly two feet of snow on Westover

Posted 1/14/2011   Updated 1/18/2011 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe

1/14/2011 - WESTOVER, Mass. -- The most powerful snowstorm in three decades blanketed Westover Jan. 12 with more than 19 inches of snow, forcing the base to close for the day.

This snowfall topped previous records of heavy snow in early 2003 (about a foot) and in 1996 (6.3 inches). The last time the base saw this much snowfall was in February 1978, when more than 25 inches of snow fell. Had all the snow Jan. 12 been rainfall, it would have measured 2.42 inches, said Robert Stacy, Westover weather forecaster.

Blowing winds and heavy snow - two classic elements of what area newspapers called the new year's first Nor'easter -- began at midnight Jan. 12. By the early morning, with a foot of snow already on the ground, Westover senior leadership issued public announcements that advised all "non-essential" personnel were not to report to the base.

Senior Master Sgt. Nelson Serrao, 439th Airlift Wing command post superintendent, was among the "essential" workforce - those involved with restoring the base infrastructure during emergencies or, in his case, getting information to the rest of the workforce. Besides the command post staff, other essential workers include security forces, the fire department and Phoenix Management Inc., the base contractor.

The base's fleet of giant snowplows were no match for the falling snow - as much as three inches fell per hour in the early morning of Jan. 12. Snowfall kept the airfield closed for the day as well. By Jan. 13, aircraft maintenance crews and Phoenix Management snow removal trucks cleared the flight line enough so that flight operations could resume. Towering snowbanks - some piled 20 feet into the air -- stood in parking lots and road.

More snow was in the forecast the week following the Nor'easter. Base officials remind all Westover people to heed emergency precautions. Workers should use discretion and call their supervisors if getting to Westover from their homes is too hazardous. Base reporting procedures are available for viewing as conditions dictate through local television and radio stations. The base snowline, a part of the command post, may be reached at 413-557-3444.

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