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Warm, Wet, and Just Enough Snow

August 22, 2018
Warm, Wet, and Just Enough Snow

The Old Farmer's Almanac's weather map for this winter. COURTESY PHOTO Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- It’s been an unusual summer for Jeff Potvin of Potvin’s Small Engine Repair. Customers wanting to get their snowblowers tuned up began flooding his phone months earlier than normal.

“I’m looking at a good year starting up, only because we had that March storm, that late storm, and a lot of people really used and abused their snowblowers during that storm ’cause there was a lot of snow, and it was heavy,” Potvin said Tuesday from his Dracut business. “Under normal circumstances, I start getting calls in September, beginning of October. I started getting them in July.”

Potvin, of Dracut, said he’s going to begin working on snowblowers next month and that there’s about a dozen people on his wait list. He hasn’t put much thought yet into the area’s forecast for this winter.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Massachusetts -- along with a cluster of other states -- is predicted to have a warm and wet winter.

“People come to New England to enjoy four seasons, and you will get four seasons but it will be overall a milder-than-normal winter and enough snow to make everyone happy,” Janice Stillman, editor of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, said Tuesday. “There will be snowy periods and icy periods and, who knows, maybe even a couple school days canceled.”

Though Stillman said the Greater Lowell area straddles two regions in the Farmer’s Almanac -- Region 1, the Northeast, and Region 2, the Atlantic Corridor -- she pointed out that it is closer to Region 1. According to the publication, this region’s winter will have above-normal precipitation and near-normal snowfall. The coldest periods will occur from late December into mid-January and late January into early February and in mid- to late February. The snowiest periods, according to the summary, will be in early January, early to mid-February, mid-March, and early April.

“I can’t predict the future,” Potvin said with a shrug when asked for his thoughts on the Farmer’s Almanac’s winter season prediction. “I really don’t know. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see.”

But Potvin was certain about one thing. “My business is the weather,” he said.

Over in Lowell, AG Hardware employee Shawn Kelley stood by a Black & Decker snowblower he placed earlier this week on the store’s floor.

“We’re selling 4 horsepower and the 8 horsepower snowblowers,” said Kelley, who works in sales there. “We’re only going to be ordering a few at a time this winter because of the way the winter looks.”

Kelley, who runs Mill City Weather, has provided the community with weather forecasts for years and said he feeds predictions to Amy Gagnon, who manages her family’s third-generation business at 776 Lakeview Ave. Gagnon then decides what to purchase for the upcoming winter months. Kelley said he’s aware of the Farmer’s Almanac predictions, adding that he and AG Hardware staff are very cautious about what they’re ordering.

At Cason’s Equipment in Lowell, owner Tom Cason stood before shiny, new Ariens snowblowers neatly displayed in the business’ 133 Congress St. location. Cason said they were put out a few weeks ago.

“Last season, we were scheduled out 3-4 weeks on service because of the winter we had previous, so all of our business tends to be indicative of the previous season,” Cason said. ” So yes, the Almanac might say it’s going to be mild, but if you recall, last winter we had several storms throughout the winter but nothing catastrophic, but then towards the tail end of the winter, we had several storms that were quite sizable. That’s what everybody remembers.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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