Despite Recent Covid Surge, DPW Sees No Change Clearing Town Roads Of Blizzard’s Snow

Photo: Rest assured, the Belmont DPW will handle the snow from the blizzard

With 18 to 26 inches of snow expected to arrive during Saturday’s blizzard, the historic spike of Covid-19 infections that swept through the nation will not impact Belmont’s response to the day-long storm, according to the director of the town’s Department of Public Works.

“Covid or no Covid, this is a snow event and the residents of Belmont can be rest assured that its DPW is prepared and ready for it,” said Jay Marcotte.

“We are fortunate that the recent surge has not caused too much disruption, fingers crossed, within the DPW and our contractors. We are prepared and ready for whatever outcome this storm may have,” said Marcotte. “We secured our contractors back in the fall and in preparing for this storm, we have had discussions with them about their staffing and equipment readiness.”

“Everything will be business as usual,” he said, meaning there will the usual complement of vehicles to plow Belmont’s roadways.

“Between our equipment and our contractors we will have 35 to 40 pieces of equipment,” said Marcotte, who arrived in Belmont in 2015 weeks before a series of four storms left a record 110 inches of the white stuff to move. Even before the trucks begin moving snow, the streets will be pretreat with salt and chemicals which Marcotte said is “very effective” in getting the streets ready for vehicle traffic as the storm finally passes.

As for the DPW’s plan to keep streets cleared during and after blizzard, Marcotte said “we plow all the streets equally, some have multiple pieces of equipment.”

No Surprise Here: Snow Emergency Parking Ban Declared Beginning Just Before Midnight On Friday, Jan. 28

Photo: It could be the big one.

With a (maybe-not-so) historic blizzard waiting on the horizon, Belmont has declared a snow emergency parking ban on all roadways as well as parking in municipal lots and Belmont Public School parking lots starting at 11:45 p.m., Friday, Jan. 28 and continuing until the town sees fit lifting it.

All vehicles parked in violation of the ban will be towed at the owner’s expense. 

The latest update from the National Weather Service at 3:22 p.m. on Friday calls for blizzard conditions for 24 hours starting at midnight, Jan. 29 with total snow accumulations of 18 to 24 inches accompanied with winds gusting as high as 60 mph. Some meteorologists this afternoon have scaled back their earlier assumptions, with one dragging it back to 12 to 16 inches.

Travel could be extremely difficult to impossible as the storm enters Saturday afternoon.

While the snow will be light and fluffy north of the Massachusetts Turnpike, blizzard winds could cause branches to land on electric wires and cut power. For anyone who losses electricity during the blizzard should call the Belmont Light Outage line at 617-993-2800. You can also follow where the lights are out by visiting the outage map at

All town, school and library activities have been cancelled for both Saturday and Sunday. 

The Department of Public Works asks residents to please exercise caution when walking on or near roadways as visibility for plow truck operators will be significantly reduced.


Blizzard To Blitz Belmont Tuesday, Causing Commuter Chaos During Whiteout Conditions

Photo: Good luck going out.

Near blizzard conditions will envelop Belmont beginning shortly before midnight and last for nearly 24 hours as a late winter nor’easter will sock the region with 10 to 18 inches of snow and sustained winds that could lead to power outages and tree damage to personal property.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning at noon, Monday, March 12 that would take effect from 11 p.m. Monday and last until 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 13. 

The service noted the near blizzard conditions in eastern Massachusetts will result in blowing and drifting snow. 

According to the NWS, a blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least 35 mph and lasting for a prolonged period of time, typically three hours or more.

The service said travel will be very difficult, especially during the Tuesday morning commute when snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour are possible. The Tuesday afternoon commute is also expected to be impacted. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

Belmont In Blizzard’s Sights: Numbers, Websites To Have On Hand For Nor’easter 3

Photo: Here it comes!

With the third nor’easter in the past two weeks barreling towards Belmont with forecasts of up to a foot-and-a-half of drifting snow and blizzard conditions, residents who were anticipating a day of Netflix and cooking could find their homes in the dark due to down power lines like so much of the Northern suburbs after last week’s storm.

Below are a few sites and phone numbers to keep close-by during the Belmont Blizzard “just in case.”

  • Call 911 only if the emergency is life-threatening.
  • If the power goes out, call Belmont Light’s notification number at 617-993-2800. You can see the location of outages in Belmont on a real-time map here.
  • A question about snowplowing on public streets? Call the DPW’s Highway Division 617-993-2690.
  • Everything you need to know about the storm and town resources can be found online at 
  • Get updates on all sorts of town information at the Belmont Police twitter page,, and at the Town Administrator’s site.

Battling A Blizzard: A Talk With Belmont Highway’s Michael Santoro [Video]

Photo: Trapelo Road, Belmont; 11:45 a.m.

Whether it’s a few inches to a foot or two, when snow covers Belmont’s streets, Mike Santoro is the town’s employee residents count on to keep the roads and parking areas clear and safe to travel.

With an anticipated 12 to 16 inches of the white stuff heading the town’s way today, Thursday, Jan. 4, Santoro, the long-time manager of the Belmont Department of Public Works’ Highway Division, will assemble up to 60 vehicles made up of town-owned trucks and contract ploughs to create a battle plan to open the town’s 78 miles of public roads.

The Belmontonian spoke to Santoro at the Town Yard just as the snow started coming down on Thursday.

Phone Numbers, Internet Sites To Have Handy During the Belmont Blizzard

Photo: Numbers you’ll need to keep close-by during the blizzard.

With Thursday’s nor’easter forecast to bring a foot of drifting snow and steady sustained winds, residents who were anticipating a day of Netflix and cooking could find their homes in the dark due to down power lines or  localized flooding. 

Below are a few sites and phone numbers to keep close-by during the Belmont Blizzard “just in case.”

  • Call 911 only if the emergency is life threatening.
  • If the power goes out, call Belmont Light’s notification number at 617-993-2800. You can see the location of outages in Belmont on a real time map here.
  • A question about snowplowing on public streets? Call the DPW’s Highway Division 617-993-2690.
  • Everything you need to know about the storm and town resources can be found online at 
  • Get updates on all sorts of town information at the Belmont Police twitter page,, and at the Town Administrator’s site.

Clearing Out: What to Know the Day After the Blizzard in Belmont

While the snow emergency parking ban will be lifted at noon today, Wednesday, Jan. 28, Belmont Department of Public Works Director Jay Marcotte is asking residents to keep their vehicles off of town streets for a bit longer.

“It would be great if our crews could have clear streets to finish plowing,” Marcotte told the Belmontonian on Monday, Jan. 26, hours before the storm hit.

That is just one request from Marcotte and other town officials who are looking to finish

Today, plow operators will begin “widen out” all streets by pushing the accumulated snow back towards the curb line and clearing the intersections. For that reason, Marcotte would like the widest possible clearance for the plows.

In addition, here are some things to know while clearing out the nearly 20 inches of snow that has settled in Belmont:

  • When clearing driveways, snow should be kept on the owner’s property, the tree lawn or in the gutter. Snow should not be deposited onto the street or sidewalk, or across the street onto a neighbor’s sidewalk. It’s actually the law: Section 60-800A of the Town’s General Bylaw.
  • Here’s a tip: Whenever possible, it is best to pile snow to the right of the driveway (as you face the street) to reduce the potential of having it redeposited at the driveway opening when the plows pass.
  • Prevent street flooding by clearing catch basins near your home to allow rain or melting snow to enter the drainage system.
  • At the urging of Belmont Fire Department, residents should shovel and clear fire hydrants of snow in your neighborhood.

“We do our best to shovel out each and every hydrant in town, but doing so takes several days,” said Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell.  “If we need to use a hydrant that hasn’t been shoveled out yet, it significantly delays the time it takes for the firefighters to get water on the fire.”

And the clock has started on residents clearing sidewalks adjacent to their property. Belmont’s general bylaws requires paved public sidewalks adjacent to residential property to be cleared and made safe for pedestrians. Residents have until 8 p.m. the day following the end of the storm (Thursday, Jan. 29) to clear the sidewalk of snow, slush and ice. For enforcement information, call the Belmont Office of Community Development at 617-993-2664.

PHOTOS: A Blizzard Walk in Belmont

The cold and wind knocked the breathe right out of anyone who stepped outside today as the Blizzard of 2015 settled over Belmont.

With wind chills below zero and the difficulty of several feet of snow on the ground, whether one was beginning to shovel out front steps, walking the dog, heading for some sledding or just to take some time out of the house was a challenge.

The Eastern Massachusetts driving ban – which was being ignored by some just after noon – allowed walkers to stride (albeit carefully) down main streets such as Trapelo Road without the hassle of thousands of vehicles. Town equipment and private contractors were mostly successful to keep the main thoroughfares open but most side streets appeared untouched for hours. In many areas, contractors lugging snowblowers had already begun throwing snow from sidewalks and driveways.

On Payson Road, the north side of the Cambridge Reservoir had drifts up to four-feet deep, while on the south side, hardy souls both young and not-so-young wanted to take the first ride down the slope.


All Hands on Deck: Belmont DPW Throwing Everything into Blizzard

Jay Marcotte, Belmont’s newly-installed Director of Public Works, said this past Saturday’s snowfall “was a chance for the department to shake the rust off” its response in preparing and handling the inevitable task for any New England town’s DPW in clearing roads of the white stuff.

“It was only four-and-a-half inches in Belmont and we didn’t have a single resident’s call on our snow hotline,” said Marcotte as he introduced himself to the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday morning, Jan. 26.

The Belmont Department of Public Work’s Snow Emergency Hotline: 617-993-2698.

But as a potentially historic nor’easter was barreling towards the region and Belmont, Marcotte – who took over the reins of the department from the retiring Peter Castanino – wasn’t expecting his department to have as easy a go of it as three days previous.

“I suspect the hotline will have a few more calls,” he said, with a smile.

To handle the blizzard, Marcotte and Highway Division Manager Michael Santoro will be marshaling all the division’s assets as well as an army of private contractors to keep at least the main thoroughfares passable for first responders and other essential vehicles.

“It’s all hands on deck,” said Marcotte.

The Highway Division has put out 20 pieces of town-owned equipment clearing roads, including dump trucks, pickups and spreaders beginning at 6 p.m. on Monday. In addition, 37 vehicles from private contractors will be hitting the streets during the height of the storm and afterwards, said Marcotte.

In addition, a tree service is on standby to remove branches and trees that could topple during the storm and heavy equipment from James W. Flett Company and FE French Construction are ready “just in case we need them,” said Marcotte.

The DPW’s primary goal will be “to keep the main drags plowed and treated so medical and other emergency services” can get to their destinations, said Marcotte.

Plowing and treating of secondary and side roads are accomplished “as soon as the department can get to them, he said.

The planning, for tackling a storm “, is the same whether it is 2-inches or 24-inches,” said Marcotte.

“We treat [storms] accordingly to what is expected but we make sure we have a plan ready to go,” he said.


Blanketed Belmont: All-Day Blizzard Finally Winding Down Tonight

A blizzard warning remains in effect in Belmont and all of eastern Massachusetts until 1 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 28, as the town and region have literally been shut down as a historic Nor’easter delivers nearly two feet of snow and gale force winds to New England.

In its latest report issued at 4:34 a.m. today, Tuesday, Jan. 27, the National Weather Service in Taunton said the region can expect heavy snow this morning at the rate of 2 to 3 inches an hour accompanied by strong and damaging winds – from the north at a sustained 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 65 mph – resulting in white-out/blizzard conditions with near zero visibility.

“Travel will be impossible and life threatening across the entire region. Also snow may be wet enough to result in downed tree limbs and power outages in addition to the winds,” said the NWS.

Snow totals have been reduced slightly as the NWS is predicting 15 to 25 inches of snow, a dip from earlier predictions of 20 to 30 inches. But the strong winds will cause snow drifts of up to four feet in some locations.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel: the NWS said the worst of the storm will be through this afternoon then diminishing later tonight with the winds slowing beginning in the early afternoon.