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PHOTOS: 'Peabody's Ready to Rock 'n Roll'

The city plow trucks and equipment are waiting to hit the streets and take on the blizzard.

The plow blades are on, the trucks are loaded up with sand and salt -- the city's fleet of snow plowing apparatus is ready to roll at the first sign of snow.

"Peabody's ready to rock 'n roll," said Public Services Director Bob Langley with a smile Thursday afternoon.

Langley, back at the DPS facility on Farm Avenue, explained that the operational command center for the storm response would be set up in a conference room.

Starting at 8 a.m. on Friday, an emergency parking ban will be in effect, prohibiting all on-street parking until further notice. Light snowfall is expected in the morning and Langley said the city's fleet -- about 30 vehicles -- will be deployed right away.

An additional 100 or so private contractors the city employs for large storms will also be called in early, Langley said, if the storm holds true to the current forecasts.

"It's looking like a pretty good size 24-hour storm," he said.

Langley said his team is expecting the worst of the storm around midnight on Saturday and lasting into the morning. He hadn't seen any indication yet that Peabody wouldn't get that 18-24 inches of snow.

The impending blizzard is projected to be the largest nor'easter to pass through since the post-Christmas blizzard of 2010, which dropped about 18 inches in Peabody over two days.

As for how this blizzard -- Nemo -- might compare to others, it's hard to say, according to Langley. "Each storm is different," he explained.

Langley said residents can help out in two ways: shovel the sidewalk in front of their homes once the storm dies down and steer clear of the plows while they're out removing snow and ice. Beyond that, he said, "Stay safe."

There is also a coastal flood warning for the area, and in light of downtown Peabody's soggier history, all precautions are being taken, said Langley. DPS crews have canvassed culverts and catch basins throughout the city in the past couple days to ensure they are working properly and aren't clogged, which could exacerbate the situation.

As for the new parking ban, Langley says it's worked well for the most part and police have only towed about 15 vehicles between two storms, compared to the hundreds of cars that get towed in Beverly and Salem in many winter storms.

Nemo will definitely put the city's notification system to the test, he agreed, anticipating there will less leniency with violators of the ban due to the greater public safety risks with a blizzard and therefore more vehicles being towed.

Another problem may be snow rapidly piling up on already narrow streets in downtown neighborhoods and in the East End of the city.

That's why the message went out early on Thursday, warning residents of the likelihood of a ban, Langley said, and he hopes of them most comply. 

"If we have to err, err a little on the safe side," he said. "We're trying to put the least inconvenience on residents with the most safety." 

As for the numbers, the city budgets about $545,000 annually for snow and ice removal. Langley said he's already about 30 percent through that amount, which is normal for this time of year.

Those expenses are the only budget item the state allows cities and towns to overspend on and pay for either with reserves at the end of the year or roll into the next year's budget.

"I'm sure this [storm] is going to cost a lot," Langley said.

Curious how much sand and salt the city uses each year for snow and ice operations? Langley said it's between 10,000 and 15,000 tons. His crews have used 3,000 tons so far on the smaller storms this winter.

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