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January 23, 2013

Editorial: Safety comes first on snow calls

There were no doubt a lot of disappointed school students by early Tuesday morning.

And a fair amount of contracted snow plow drivers obviously had their hopes for a payday dashed as the sun rose, then broke through the clouds, dimming to seize back any illumination case by Gloucester’s signature blue lights that signify when a city snow emergency and on-street parking ban is clamped into place.

But while many residents might have snickered and scoffed Tuesday morning at the fizzling of a second snow emergency declared by Mayor Carolyn Kirk — and the potentially car-towing parking ban that goes with it — the fact is that neither the mayor, nor leaders in other area communities, had much choice when she declared the ban that began at 8 p.m., when it was snowing and, indeed, the City Hall, Rogers Street and Stacy Boulevard lights were appropriately flashing. For what it’s worth, that’s also around the time we finalized our story for Tuesday morning’s paper, assuming that, by the time folks got their morning delivery, the city and Cape Ann would be pelted with snow, with a parking ban in place.

Simply put, when a storm approaches — and weather “experts” were still calling for up to eight inches of snow as of 8 p.m. Monday — the mayor and city Department of Public Works crews have no choice but to play it safe in preparing for the worst. Indeed, a far worse case would have been if the city, its residents and its DPW crews weren’t ready, or perhaps prepared for a dusting of snow, and we were surprised by eight inches or more.

So while some might suggest that the mayor and the city are essentially 0-2 in calling for snow emergencies this winter, a more accurate ledger might suggest that Gloucester’s and Cape Ann’s residents are really 2-0 when it comes to dodging nature’s wrath.

Let’s hope that winning streak continues.

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