Live Blog: Snow Removal Continues Wednesday In N.H.'s Hardest Hit Communities

Jan 28, 2015

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Live Storm Blog

8:13 a.m. Wednesday: Nashua, Durham Work to Get Back to Normal

  Cleanup is underway across New Hampshire today, after yesterday’s blizzard.

We check in with two communities hit hardest by the storm: Nashua and Durham.

Let’s start with Nashua, which saw 33 inches of snow.

Justin Kates is the city’s director of emergency management.

How are things looking this morning?

I think we’ve made significant improvements. We’ve had crews out all night. We had crews out all day yesterday. These plow drivers have really been working nonstop to clear those roads as much as possible. We’re seeing some really good improvements today.

Do you feel confident that roads are clear enough that people can get out and about this morning?

I do. I think the big concern for folks is they’re going to want to give themselves some extra time this morning to ensure their driveways are clear. Those roads are still a little icy, so it’s still important for people to drive safe if they have to go out this morning.

What about parking on city streets?

At 10 a.m. this morning, parking will be allowed on city streets as well as those municipal surface lots.

What about other concerns besides roadways? Have there been any other lingering issues from the storm?

Thankfully with this storm, we didn’t have any power outages, which certainly brings a concern to the emergency management office. We didn’t have to open up any shelters and for the most part, it was just a significant snow event that really impacted our public works department. Thankfully, there weren’t really any other concerns other than keeping those streets clear.

Speaking of your public works department, how about the budget? We’ve got many more storms on the horizon and it’s only the end of January.

One of the things I think we do pretty well in the city is to plan for these kinds of events. There’s a snow budget already in place here in the city as well as a trust fund in the event that we have one of those significant winters like we’ve had in the past. I think we’re ready to go if we see continue to see more snow like this throughout the winter.

Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig also joined Morning Edition.

What are you seeing in Durham today?

We had quite a storm yesterday. We took measurements yesterday evening and parts of Durham had up to 28 inches of snow.

How’s it looking for snow removal?

It’s been hard sledding, to be honest with you. A storm like this requires that our snow fighters in the public works department sometimes go for as long as 24 hours with only short breaks for meals and naps. At this time, we have more or less had to send all of our staff home to rest because they had been going more than a day without stopping.

We have all of our main roads cleared. We have most of the sidewalks in the downtown cleared. But all of the sidewalks extending into our ancillary neighborhoods, around the downtown into some of the more distant parts of the community will have to wait for about another day so we can muster the resources to clear those out.

Looking ahead, there are some other storms on the horizon. How’s the town budget?

The town budget is good. We begin our fiscal year Jan. 1, so we’ve really just begun with a new fiscal year. I have to say we were running on fumes until Dec. 31, but we’re recharged now with a new fiscal year. That’s good news, but storms like this are costly. In salt alone, Durham went through about $10,000 in this storm. And the total cost of cleanup is going to be somewhere between $25,000 and $35,000. I’m betting around $35,000, toward the high end.

When do you feel like you’ll be back to normal in Durham?

It’s hard because clearing the roads is just the first step. In the downtown in particular, we have very large snow piles and we need to bring in special loaders and dump trucks in order to cart all of that snow away. To make matters worse, we have more snow coming in this weekend, with more than a foot or more expected next Monday.

  6:16 a.m. Wednesday: Cleaning up the Mess

New Hampshire is digging out from a strong winter storm that dumped more than two feet of snow in some places.

Gov. Maggie Hassan said government will reopen Wednesday after shutting down when the storm blew through on Tuesday. Some schools will remain closed for a second day and strong winds into Tuesday night meant snow drifts were likely to pop up on some roads.

Snowfall totals ranged from a few inches north of the White Mountains to more than 3 feet along the coast. Wind speeds of 30 to 35 mph and gusts up to 50 mph blew drifts that reached rooflines in some places.

Wednesday is expected to be cold and dry but more snow could reach the state starting Thursday night.

5:10 p.m. Tuesday: Overview of the Storm

A major winter storm blanketed New Hampshire Tuesday, but ample warning, a declared state of emergency and what Gov. Maggie Hassan called good old Granite State common sense kept problems to a minimum. Here's an overview of the storm so far, via The Associated Press:

Katie Paine of Durham had to switch from ruler to tape measure when the snow got too deep.
Credit Courtesy Katie Paine

Snow Totals

The National Weather Service predicted storm totals of 18-24 inches in southeastern and coastal New Hampshire, with the amount falling as you head north and west.

By 4 p.m., 26 inches was reported in Atkinson, 24 inches in Hudson and 18.5 inches in Merrimack. Concord was expected to get about a foot while north of the White Mountains, Colebrook was looking at 2 to 6 inches.

Snow blows off a roof in Hollis.
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

High Winds 

The wind created problems during the storm and will continue to harass clean-up efforts even after the snowfall ends. At Hampton, steady winds of 30 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph will push the dry, light snow into drifts that can block roads and undo efforts by plow crews to keep the pavement clear.

Gov. Hassan talks to the media Tuesday morning.
Credit Screen shot/NHPR Staff

State of Emergency

Hassan declared a state of emergency on Monday and ordered all non-essential state services closed to keep employees off the roads. She also implored private businesses to follow her lead and let their employees stay home, keeping more cars off the roads and letting state Department of Transportation crews work more efficiently.

At a briefing Tuesday morning, Hassan said "so far, so good,'' when asked how the state was faring during the storm. State Police Col. Robert Quinn said that troopers were still responding to cars of the road on state highways.

Reporter Sean Hurley's son Sam got the chance to enjoy today's snow day.
Credit Sean Hurley for NHPR

Closures

State government offices, including courts and the state liquor stores, will reopen Wednesday but Hassan is asking agency heads to be flexible in granting leave requests for employees hindered by the storm. Schools around the state were closed Tuesday and many were already announcing they'd be closed on Wednesday, too.

Related: Emergency closures list via WMUR

Power Outages and Travel

The wind was expected to snap tree limbs and potentially knock out power, especially along the coast. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, though, there were fewer than 150 outages statewide. Utilities strategically placed crews in the field ahead of the storm and brought in outside contractors to help out if needed.

All arrivals and departures at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport were canceled. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation suspended toll collections from midnight Monday through midnight Tuesday. Amtrak temporarily suspended service between New York and Boston, as well as the Downeaster from Brunswick, Maine to Boston, and the Vermonter from Washington to St. Albans, Vermont.

Later Tuesday, Amtrak said the services between New York and Boston would resume on a modified schedule Wednesday while the other services would be on their regular schedules Wednesday.

More Snow Coming?

The storm was expected to taper off by Tuesday night as the storm pushes north. Wednesday looks to be dry but more snow could hit the state Thursday night into Friday.

4:03 p.m. Tuesday:

Ride along with a New Hampshire DOT plow driver. Video produced by Holly Ramer of the Associated Press:

3:12 p.m. Tuesday:

The NWS station in Gray, Maine has released their final snow totals map for today.  

3:01 p.m. Tuesday:

Storm conditions and snow totals continue to change throughout the state.

The National Weather Service has several interactive online tools you can use to track observed weather and predictions for your part of the state. The screenshot below is part of a tool that tracks snow totals - settings entered view the observed totals for the past 24 hours. 

Prototype tool that monitors snow totals. This view is for the past 24 hours.
Credit Via the National Weather Service

2:49 p.m. Tuesday: 

Photographer Allegra Boverman has been keeping an eye on the totals in Hollis, where the path she and her husband have worked to clear tell the story of how much accumulation there is in her neck of the woods.

Accumulation in Hollis
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

2:09 p.m. Tuesday: Fun in the snow in Portsmouth

The social media-fueled snowball fight in Portsmouth's Market Square
Credit Katherine Underwood/NECN.

A large snowball fight has broken out in Portsmouth's Market Square, where posts on social media inspired residents to go outside and play in the snow.

Photo courtesy Katherine Underwood/NECN.

1:34 p.m. Tuesday: How will this storm stack up in weather history?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) posted this story about Juno's potential place on the historical record of large storms. 

Maps of the blizzards of 1969 and 1993.
Credit NOAA, via Climate.gov

12:50 p.m. Tuesday:  

12:45 p.m. Tuesday:   

While it's still calm in the North Country, reporter Sean Hurley took a moment to upload this photo of his son Sam to Instagram.

 

A photo posted by @sherwinsleeves on

Jan 27, 2015 at 9:36am PST

12:09 p.m. Tuesday: Morning Edition Producer Michael Brindley has been keeping an eye on storm conditions in Derry.

This photo shows snow accumulation and drifting resulting from high winds. The photo on the left was taken at 9 a.m., the photo on the right was taken at noon.

Snow accumulation and drifting at 9 a.m. (left) and noon (right).
Credit Michael Brindley for NHPR

11:38 a.m. Tuesday: The latest from the Mount Washington Observatory

From an office window at the Mount Washington weather station. This webcam looks west towards the town of Franconia, Mt. Lafayette, and Bretton Woods Mountain Resort.
Credit Courtesy Mount Washington Observatory

Click here to see the current summit conditions on Mount Washington.   

Here is the observatory's current weather forecast:

Strong low pressure located south of Cape Cod early this morning will continue to spread heavy snowfall across the higher summits, with strong winds and blowing snow creating very poor visibility. Snowfall will be heaviest this morning through the afternoon, when bands of heavy snow will be crossing the region, creating whiteout conditions at times.

Temperatures will remain near or below zero through the day, with a wind chill advisory in place through tomorrow morning. Hiking is strongly discouraged today, with the combination of high winds, heavy snow, and bitterly cold wind chills creating life threatening conditions to anyone above tree line.

The storm will slowly weaken as it drifts into the Gulf of Maine overnight, with lighter snow continuing through the night and temperatures bottoming out in the single digits below. Snow will taper to snow showers by Wednesday, with blowing snow continuing as winds shift to the northwest and remain just shy of hurricane force.

Total storm snowfall accumulations will range 12-24 inches. The summits will clear out of the clouds under building high pressure tomorrow night, with another weaker storm looking to affect the area as early as late Thursday night. 

11:13 a.m. Tuesday:

Credit Courtesy NHPR Listener Katie Paine

10:55 a.m. Tuesday: Listener photo - Durham

We received this photo via email from NHPR listener Katie Paine:

I’ve been living here in Durham for the better part of 55 years and I’ve never seen snow fall so fast. I stuck a ruler into a planter on my deck and  measured about 14 inches around 7:30  now it’s at 20.  The attached is a picture of the 15 inch ruler now buried!

10:50 a.m. Tuesday: PSNH says few power outages so far

Public Service of New Hampshire says so far the storm has caused very few power outages in its system. That’s primarily because the snow is dry, light and powdery, says PSNH spokesman Martin Murray.

"But it's really the winds that are a concern, so we're hoping they just stay about where they are, they lessen after the next eight to ten hours or so. If they do we'll be in good shape." 

Murray says about two dozen customers lost power in Francestown, but that those houses should be back online by 1030 this morning.  

10:42 a.m. Tuesday:

10:20 a.m. Tuesday: Governor Hassan holds press conference

Governor Maggie Hassan speaks to the media on Tuesday morning
Credit Screen shot/NHPR Staff

At a press conference held at the Emergency Operations Center on Concord, Governor Maggie Hassan said there are reports of 4 inches per hour falling in some parts of the state. Live reports from the Seacost indicate high winds and close-to-zero visibility.

The storm is still moving up and residents should not be lulled into a false sense of security.

Hassan said the storm is not entirely predictable and even after the worst of it passes, high winds will continue to make for difficult conditions.

DOT’s Bill Janelle said all the departments are out, as well as contractors. “Challenge is intensity of the storm. It’s coming down more quickly than we can get it off the road.”

Janelle says it has been very helpful to crews that people have decided to stay home. “We’ll get through it,” he said.

Col. Robert Quinn of the New Hampshire State Police says there have been about 13 reports of vehicles going off the road, caused by drivers going to fast for the conditions. No injuries have been reported, he said.

All things considered, the governor concluded, “So far, so good.”

However, she urged people to stay home and if you must go out, exhinbit common sense and heed the lowered speed limits. “It’s really important,” she said.

10:05 a.m.: Wind causes plowing challenges, tolls suspended

The Department of Transportation says empty roads are making for easy plowing around the state. DOT spokesman Bill Boynton says Tuesday morning traffic is at less than five percent of normal volume.

"The plow trucks have the roads to themselves, it's a dry cold type condition so the snow is just easy to plow. The blowing aspect is a continuing problem where it just continues to fill in after the plow trucks go by."

All state road tolls are suspended until midnight tonight. 

9:58 a.m. Tuesday: Seacoast hardest hit

So far, the seacoast is the hardest hit corner of the state during this winter storm. Beth Dinan with Seacoast Online says the weather is making for unpredictable travel.

"In some places, the snow has drifted as much as four or five feet, and in other places you might have a foot. The cars - people that are going out are getting stuck."

Dinan adds roads are refilling with snow as soon as they are plowed. 

9:41 a.m. Tuesday: 

Here's the Latest forecast map from the National Weather Service observatory in Gray, Maine

National Weather Service map
Credit Weather.gov

  

9:32 a.m. Tuesday:  

Allegra Boverman of Hollis sent us this photo of the snow drift on her porch.

Snow in Hollis at 9:30 AM
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

9 a.m. Tuesday:  Snow disparities across the state

Weather forecasters say so far this morning there is a sharp cut-off between areas seeing heavy snowfall and the rest of the state. National Weather Service Meteorologist Eric Schwibs says the center of the storm has tracked somewhat farther east than forecast. "What you’re seeing with these very tight bands of heavy snow is you have a very steep gradient in snowfall rates and totals. The heaviest so-far is falling near the coast and those heavy bands are rotating inland."  The National Weather Service reports the highest accumulation so far is in Windham, New Hampshire, which had seen 21 inches as of 8:15 this morning. 

Snowfall in Derry, 9 AM.
Credit Michael Brindley for NHPR

7:45  a.m. Tuesday:  Governor says state of emergency continues

Governor Maggie Hassan says she will meet with state safety officials today at 10:15 a.m. for an update on today's winter storm.  "Once I hear the update from our Gray’s Weather Service and others, we’ll continue to monitor things and we’ll let people know when the state of emergency is going to be lifted as soon as we make that determination."  The governor urges New Hampshire residents not to be lulled into a false sense of security, and says there is plenty of snow yet to fall. 

6:30 AM Tuesday: First Significant Power Outages Reported

The New Hampshire Electric Coop was the first utility to report a major outage.

The same downed power line knocked out power to around 670 Public Service of New Hampshire customers.

12:00 AM Tuesday: NH DOT Suspends Toll Collection

The NH DOT has called off toll collection today.

Post by NH Department of Transportation

4:30 PM Monday: N.H. Utilities Prepare For Approaching Storm -Associated Press

N.H. utilities dealt with widespread power outages as a result of downed tree limbs during the Thanksgiving 2014 storm

Utilities in New Hampshire are preparing for the possibility of blizzard-like conditions as a major storm approaches the state Monday night into Tuesday.

Unitil spokesman Alec O'Meara says if that happens, bucket trucks will be unable to extend arms due to high winds at the storm's peak. He says, though that the utility will still be able to work with first responders to address downed wire calls.

Unitil is securing additional third-party crews to provide assistance in the storm.

Public Service of New Hampshire says it is pre-staging employees and materials in locations across the state. It too, has secured additional outside crews.

Liberty Utilities also has crews on standby and has hired outside contractors to double the number of crews it normally uses.

4:24 PM Monday: Flights Canceled At Manchester-Boston Airport -Associated Press

Snow crews clear the runway at Manchester-Boston in November
Credit Via the airport's Twitter account

Flight cancellations are likely to linger at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport as a major snow storm is expected to hit the region.

Delta and United flights scheduled for Monday afternoon and evening were canceled ahead of the storm because of bad weather at connecting airports.

Manchester spokesman Tom Malafronte says the last round of inbound flights — which usually stay the night to get things going again the next day — will be cancelled so there will likely be no flights on Tuesday. The airport hasn't closed for a snow storm in more than 25 years.

The National Weather Service is predicting blizzard conditions for a 250-mile stretch of the East coast. Parts of New Hampshire could see 18 to 25 inches of snow, with more falling toward the coast and southeastern part of the state.

4:11 PM Monday

'We really are hoping everyone will think this one through, get prepared, and stay home and stay off the road so we can all stay safe.' Governor Maggie Hassan

Governor Hassan says the state isn’t expecting widespread power outages but warned that this storm could bring whiteout conditions and down limbs of already damaged trees. Hassan says state government will close Tuesday and urged towns and private businesses to do the same. 

“We really are hoping everyone will think this one through, get prepared, and stay home and stay off the road so we can all stay safe.” The governor says if people must travel tonight or Tuesday they should bring supplies to help them stay safe if they are stranded.  Transportation officials say more than 700 plows will be out for the duration of the storm, but snow, particularly in the southeastern part of the state  is expected to fall faster than it can be cleared from roads. Listen to the full press briefing from Governor Hassan and other state officials:

3:46 PM Monday

The latest National Weather Service map shows blizzard, winter storm, and hurricane force wind warnings for most of the state.

Credit Via weather.gov

3:13 PM Monday

Governor Hassan speaking to the press Monday
Credit Via @GovernorHassan on Twitter

Governor Maggie Hassan is declaring a state of emergency ahead of a huge snowstorm on its way to New Hampshire. Speaking this afternoon, the governor said much of state government will be closed Tuesday because of the storm, and she’s encouraging towns and private employers to follow suit.

The National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings for parts of southern New Hampshire, where the storm could bring to 2 feet of snow and wind gusts of 50 miles an hour. Winter storm warnings have been issued for other areas of the state, with Concord and parts north forecast to get 8 inches to a foot of snow.

The snow will wind down late Tuesday, but linger into Wednesday.

3:01 PM Monday

Here's the current Mount Washington summit weather forecast, courtesy the Mount Washington Observatory:

The view from the "West View" Mount Washington summit camera at 3:00 PM on Monday
Credit Courtesy the Mount Washington Observatory

High pressure will move into southern Canada today, with low pressure off the Mid Atlantic coast quickly strengthening into a powerful and historic Nor’easter this evening.

Clouds will increase through the day, with relatively light winds ahead of the storm. Overnight low pressure south of Cape Cod will begin to pull heavy precipitation towards New Hampshire, with snow beginning after midnight.

A band of very heavy snowfall will likely set up on the northwest side of the storm, with the heaviest snowfall occurring between Tuesday morning and early Tuesday afternoon as this band sets up over New England.

Winds will quickly ramp up to hurricane force Tuesday, likely creating blowing snow and whiteout conditions. The Nor’easter will slowly weaken as it tracks through the Gulf of Maine overnight tomorrow, with a steady but lighter snowfall continuing for much of the night. Snow showers will linger into early Wednesday morning, with total storm accumulations over the higher summits ranging 12-20 inches, with slightly higher amounts possible if heavier bands of snow set up over the summit.

2:45 PM Monday  

Governor Maggie Hassan declares a state of emergency as part of the preparedness plan being put in place for the approaching storm. State government offices will be closed tomorrow and non-essential personnel are being asked to stay at home. 

2:00 PM Monday

All four of the state’s electric utilities are staging line-crews across their service areas anticipating power outages from tomorrow’s snow storm.

Public Service of New Hampshire has 275 linemen already on-hand, and 200 more are headed toward the state right now.

1:50 PM Monday

The view of the storm from space, via NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center on Twitter.

1:48 PM Monday

You can visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric forecast site right here.

Take a look at NOAA's  24-hour national precipitation forecast map:

Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts via NOAA and the NWS

1:26 PM Monday

You can read the Mount Washington Observatory summit forecast right here.

Here's a view from one of the observatory's webcams taken just after noon today. Conditions are still clear, but the meteorologists are predicting whiteout conditions once the storm hits. 

Credit Courtesy the Mount Washington Observatory

12:09 PM Monday

Tweet from the National Weather Service, Boston

12:07 PM Monday

12:00 PM Monday

The state will open its emergency operations center this evening as New Hampshire prepares for the first massive snowstorm of the year. Parts of New Hampshire could see 18 to 25 inches of snow, with more falling toward the coast and southeastern part of the state.

Credit Dan Gorenstein for NHPR

The National Weather Service says the expected nor'easter could bring heavy snow, powerful winds and widespread coastal flooding through Tuesday. Airlines have begun canceling flights in and out of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport ahead of the storm. Officials say it’s unlikely the airport will see ANY traffic on Tuesday, during the height of the storm.

New Hampshire's electric utilities say the storm’s heavy snow and high winds could lead to power outages across the state.

Public Service of New Hampshire says it’s pre-staging employees and equipment across the state ahead of the snow. The company also says it has additional line crews ready to assist in the event of widespread outages.

Unitil and the American Red Cross are advising residents to prepare now in case they lose electricity during the storm. They say residents should keep extra food, water and supplies handy both in their cars and at home. And they advise individuals to keep their cell phone batteries charged and the gas tanks in their cars full, to avoid freezing in the fuel lines.  

11:50 AM Monday

Check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's satellite imagery right here.

Satellite imagery from NOAA. Click the link above to see the latest looped video
Credit Via weather.gov

11:25 AM Monday

A huge snowstorm is on its way to New Hampshire with blizzard warnings for southern areas of the state, bringing up to 2 feet of snow and wind gusts of 50 miles an hour. 

Related: 'Blizzard-Like Conditions Set To Hit Northeast'

The National Weather Service says the snow was expected to start late Monday in southern New Hampshire, and intensify Tuesday morning. Blizzard warnings were issued Monday for eastern Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties.

Click here to see the National Weather Service storm warning.

The National Weather Service alert area for the oncoming storm
Credit Via the NWS website

Winter storm warnings were issued for other areas of the state, with Concord and parts north forecast to get 8 inches to a foot of snow.

The snow will wind down late Tuesday, but linger into Wednesday.

Whiteout conditions are expected to make travel extremely dangerous, and strong winds may lead to scattered power outages and bitter cold temperatures.

Via the AP: An interactive look at the forecast using data from NOAA: