Nor'Easter Leaves Thousands Of Granite Staters Without Power, Likely For Days

Nov 26, 2014

For weather information in your area, including utility outage maps, visit NHPR's weather information page right here. 

Downed tree limbs caused by heavy, wet snow are a common sight in N.H. this Thanksgiving morning
Credit Concord Resident via Facebook

Tens of thousands of New Hampshire residents woke up on Thanksgiving morning without power.

Public Service of New Hampshire, the state’s largest electricity provider, reported 168,000 of its customers were in the dark this morning.

Unitil is reporting about 18,000 customers are without power.

PSNH spokeswoman Lauren Collins says the company says the southern and central-eastern portions of the state were hit hardest.

Snow-covered transformer in Hopkinton
Credit NHPR Staff

  “So Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, Strafford counties have the most concentrated outages. There are outages as you head the western part of the state, the southwestern part. And as you head to the lakes region, there are also some scattered outages.”

Collins says the major problem has been heavy, wet snow bringing down large trees.

She says crews have been working through the night, and will continue to work throughout the Thanksgiving holiday.

“At this time, we have 138 PSNH workers, 100 additional contractors our there. They’ve been working pretty much nonstop to make sure that somebody gets a warm turkey today.”

Additional crews are expected today from across New England and Canada to provide support.

Still, Collins says customers should expect this process take some time.

“We are telling people to be prepared for a multi-day restoration effort. That doesn’t mean everyone will be without power for several days, but we want them to be prepared and stay safe. Have necessaries on hand; flashlights, batteries, etc.”

New Hampshire Electric Co-op Making Progress, Asks for Patience

Dena DeLucca, vice president with New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, says roughly 15,000 customers are without power this morning.

That’s down from a peak of about 22,000 customers overnight.

DeLucca says there are still a number of power lines, and asks customers to have patience as crews work throughout the Thanksgiving holiday.

Branches weighed down by wet snow in Hopkinton
Credit NHPR Staff

“What happens with this heavy snow it brings down trees and tree limbs that take down the wire. It’s a fairly extensive job to put that back, once they get the road cleared.” 

She says 20 line crews and 25 crews are out working this morning to repair the damage.

The company hopes to have power restored to all customers by 10 this evening.

North Country Not Hit as Parts of the State

4:30 AM - by Chris Jensen 

The heaviest snowfall was south of the notches, according to the National Weather Service in Gray Maine.

Margaret Curtis is a forecaster there.

“As of 5 am the highest total is in Laconia at 16 and one-half inches however we have had a number of reports of around a foot.

“And, we are expecting widespread amounts of near a foot from the Lakes Region south through Concord.”

The good news is that the storm is moving away.

“This morning snow has pretty much come to an end across New Hampshire and we’ll see cloudy skies and temperatures getting up to right around the freezing mark, maybe just a tad over.”

Curtis said the biggest problem was the snow was wet, heavy and capable of bringing down trees and branches.

Indeed about 181,000 customers are without power.

About 140,000 of those are PSNH customers.

Twenty-two thousand use Unitil customers.

Another 19,000 use the New Hampshire Electric Co-op.

Most of those affected were south of the notches with many in the southeast corner of the state.

PSNH described the damage as “significant” and predicted a “multi-day restoration effort” is expected.

Crews worked through the night and help was expected on Thanksgiving from from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Canada.

To see the latest updates from your utility provider, click on the links below:

PSNH Outage Map

Unitil Outage Map

New Hampshire Electric Co-op Outage Map

Liberty Utilities Outage Map

Outages Surge Across Granite State

Update: 8:07 PM

PSNH's outage map
Credit Via PSNH

Power outages continue to affect N.H. residents, with PSNH's website now reporting 19% of their customers, or more than 93,000 people, are without power.

Unitil is reporting outages affecting nearly 20,000 customers, while the N.H. Electric Co-op is reporting approximately 12,000 outages via Twitter. 

Update: 5:09 PM 

The season's first significant snowfall has knocked out power to about 16,000 people in New Hampshire. Public Service Company of New Hampshire reports most of its 13,000 outages are in the southern part of the state.

The New Hampshire Electric Co-op is also reporting outages. 

Related: Click here to see PSNH's outage map.

Outages are being caused not only by heavy snow bringing down tree branches onto power lines, but also car accidents into utility poles. There's no estimate yet on when the power will be restored. Unitil reported about 3,000 New Hampshire customers without power as of 4 p.m. The storm was expected to dump upward of a foot of snow on the busy travel day before Thanksgiving.

Route 302 in Bethlehem
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

Update 3:28 PM - Associated Press

A storm sweeping up the East Coast is expected to blanket New Hampshire with its first significant snowfall of the season. 

Governor Maggie Hassan directed that non-emergency state personnel be released by 3 p.m. to avoid the peak of the storm and heavy Thanksgiving holiday traffic.

Snow totals from a few inches to up to a foot in some places are expected as the storm moves in. The National Weather Service predicted the snow would begin to taper off after midnight. 

Some schools closed early. 

Bill Boynton with the state Department of Transportation says the state's 700-plus plows will be out this afternoon. He says the best advice for travelers is to allow more travel time.  

Update 2:57 PM - by Chris Jensen

Early this afternoon the storm was hitting New Hampshire's North Country. The snow began as if somebody hit a switch marked “instant, heavy snow.” and then came the 911 calls.

The warm, slushy snow – the first heavy snowfall of the season – was extremely slippery and caused accidents throughout the North Country. In Bethlehem Route 302 was closed for a while after a three-car accident including one vehicle that slid into a snow plow.

Wednesday, 8:00 AM - by Michael Brindley

Credit MrSchuReads via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/sfTDs

Hometown Forecaster Meteorologist Rob Carolan says the first major winter storm of the season will move into the state later this afternoon and develop into the evening.

Carolan says those with plans to travel for the holiday should consider leaving this morning, if possible.

“If you can’t make it out by midday, you may want to hold off until later tomorrow morning because conditions are going to deteriorate through the midday and afternoon hours as precipitation becomes heavier in nature and switches over from rain to sleet and then snow.”

Carolan expects the storm will bring 3-6 inches of snow to the Seacoast and Nashua and more than six inches to areas north and west of Manchester towards Concord and into Plymouth.

“And at least six inches of snow if not more up through the White Mountains and possibly as far north as northern Coos County.”

On Thanksgiving morning, Carolan says the steadier precipitation will come to an end.

“There’s still going to be an upper-level disturbance coming by tomorrow that may actually kick off some scattered flurries and snow showers. Generally, it looks like accumulation with those will be under half an inch and it shouldn’t present that much of a problem.”

He says conditions on the road should be improved by Thursday afternoon.

Public Service of Nashua, the state’s largest electricity provider, is encouraging customers to be prepared for the storm.

PSNH spokeswoman Lauren Collins says crews will be on standby throughout the day to deal with any outages that arise.

“We are hopeful that this doesn’t cause a lot of tree or line damage, as we always are with any storm,” Collins said. “But we want people to be prepared for the possibility of power outages. That includes having a preparedness kit handy, some emergency supplies, including batteries, flashlights, and essentials on hand.”

Collins says with the first storm of the season, it’s important to remind people to stay away from downed power lines and to keep in mind proper safety procedures when using a generator.

She urges customers who do lose power to report those outages to PSNH as soon as possible.

Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton says drivers will need to use caution.

“People really need to get into driving more or driving thoughts,” he said. “Giving themselves more time to get to their destination, leaving plenty of space between vehicles, and not making any sudden moves in front of other vehicles.”

Boynton says the state’s more than 700 trucks will be ready to treat the state’s roads, but says there’s little that can be done until the snow starts falling.

“In some cases, we can pretreat with brine, but given the fact that this is a coastal storm with moisture that would only wash away or dilute any kind of preparation on the road, it’s really going to involve getting out there once the storm starts.”

The storm comes at the heart of the busiest travel season of the year.

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport spokesman Tom Malafronte says crews will be on standby to clear the snow once it starts to stick.

“Right now, it looks like all of the arrivals are on time, departures are on time. We’re not seeing any impacts from down line airports, which is a good thing," he said. "We’re just going to have to continue to monitor it throughout the day. Certainly there might be some impacts on arriving flights later tonight as the snow starts to accumulate.”

He urges travelers to contact their airlines to check on flight delays or cancellations before coming out to the airport.

Several school districts plan to close early in advance of the storm.

The University of New Hampshire has canceled all classes for this afternoon.