Winter Storm Update: Blizzard Brings Flooding, Poor Travel Conditions To N.H.

Jan 5, 2018

FRIDAY update: Bitter cold will grip New Hampshire today as the state digs out and cleans up from the major winter storm Thursday.

Bookmark this blog for continuing weather updates, and scroll down for NHPR's reports from around New Hampshire.  The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill warning for much of the state from Friday at 9 a.m. to Saturday at 11 a.m.

Storm update, Friday morning: ​The National Weather Service issued a wind chill warning for most of the state, while there's a wind chill advisory for Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham and Strafford counties. The difference will be a matter degrees, but wind chill factors are expected to be well below zero. In greater Concord, temperature will fall from 12 degrees at daybreak to 4 degrees by 4 p.m. In Lebanon, the mercury will drop from 10 degrees to zero by 3 p.m.

Utilities late Thursday restored power to those without electricity. At daybreak, reports indicated a handful of outages across the state.

Snow Estimates

Snow accumulation inch estimates, as listed Friday by National Weather Service spotters:

  • Bedford: 14
  • Concord: 13
  • Dover: 13
  • Gilmanton: 14
  • Henniker: 15
  • Nashua: 13 
  • Plymouth: 8
  • Rindge: 14
  • Seabrook: 15

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Storm update Thursday at 10:30 p.m.: High winds are contributing to an increasing number of power outages in the Granite State. There are an estimated 8,457 outages. The break-out:

  • Eversource: 4,583, with 1,051 out in Deerfield and 1,641 out in Farmington.
  • N.H. Electric Coop: 2,090
  • Unitil: 1,320 out on the Seacoast and 422 in the capital area
  • Liberty Utilities: 142, with most either in Pelham or Windham.

7:30 p.m. update: There are about 2,000 power outages in New Hampshire at this point, with most of them being customers of Eversource, the state's largest utility. Franklin has 560 and Sanbornton 554 outages. 

N.H. Electric Coop reports 45 outages, with Grafton being home to most of those.

Public Safety leaders ask that people do not drive if they do not have to. They warn walkers, too, that plow drivers have limited visibility. Rye police report a close-call with a resident walking their dog.

Update: 4:30 PM:

The snow will stop falling tonight but it'll still be cold and windy, with lows in the single digits.

For tomorrow, southern and eastern New Hampshire will have clouds and wind, the north will have some wind and afternoon snow. Highs around ten degrees in the south, just above zero in the north.

For Saturday, partly cloudy skies and wind with highs in the low single digits. On Sunday, mostly sunny skies with highs around ten degrees, slightly cooler in the north.

Use these links to track power failures in your area:

Eversource   |   NH Electric Coop   |   Unitil   |   Liberty Utilities


Credit Hampton Beach Village District

Thursday, 4:00 PM:

Floods surge on the Seacoast

Heavy winds combined with high tide to cause flooding in parts of Hampton. Sections of Route 1A have been closed and officials are urging motorists to stay off the roads.

Sergeant Alex Reno is with the Hampton Police Department.

"We have had a few instances where the fire department or the police department have had to extract people from vehicles because the vehicles were flooding out and we've had a few requests for assistance to pull people from their houses because their houses have begun to flood and their heating sources have been blown out because of the rising water."

Hampton resident Alicia Preston says she was inside a local restaurant when she witnessed one of those rescues.

"The fire department dropped off a few people who had been rescued. They came in and one woman had no shoes. The bartender, the people at Wally's were fantastic, looking to get her socks and shoes."

While the waters are receding now as the tide goes out, officials warn that the next high tide could cause more flooding.

A plow clears roads in blizzard conditions in Dover

N.H. DOT: "Stay off the roads"

Transportation officials are advising New Hampshire residents to stay off the roads. With blizzard warnings throughout the state – there’s very little traffic on the roadways.

Across the state, more than 700 plows will be out well into the evening.

Bill Boynton of the state Department of Transportation says there have been a few accidents so far and some partial road closures.

“Conditions are starting to definitely deteriorate as the snow picks up in intensity and we are getting wind gusts. Roads are snow covered pretty much statewide. Speeds have been down posted to 45 mph in all the major corridors. We are asking people to avoid unnecessary travel throughout the rest of the day.”

There are also flood warnings on the Seacoast today. Boynton advises drivers to especially avoid coastal roads if possible.

Poor road conditions in Salem
Credit Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Thursday, 3:45 PM:

Utilities brace for storm-related outages

The snow has caused only a handful of power outages in New Hampshire as of this afternoon, but more could be on the way as winds pick up, especially on the Seacoast.

The 2008 ice storm that knocked out power for millions in the Northeast left a big impression on public utilities like Eversource. Thousands of their New Hampshire customers were in the dark for days or weeks. Spokesman Martin Murray says they don't want a repeat of that anytime soon.

"We've spent enormous sums of money strengthening our infrastructure to enhance its resiliency and reliability," Murray told NHPR's Annie Ropeik.

That's meant installing stronger utility poles, trimming trees more aggressively, and adding new technology that helps workers isolate the cause of an outage, and reroute power more quickly to the people around it.

Eversource has called up 400 line and tree workers and contractors to respond to this storm.

Flights canceled at Manchester airport

All flights at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport have been canceled for the rest of the day.

Spokesman for the Manchester Airport Tom Malafronte  says crews are out plowing the runway for its first arrival flights later this evening. But those flights are still uncertain.

“If we don’t get the inbound flights tonight it’s going to impact the departures in the morning so the best advice is to contact their airline and check their flight status before they come out to the airport to make sure it’s still operating.”

Malafronte advises passengers to prepare for long lines and delays due to today’s cancellations.

Thursday, 3:00 PM: 

Floods surge on the Seacoast

The blizzard is bringing flooding to some parts of the Seacoast. The heavy winds and high-tide earlier today combined to cause flooding on some streets in Portsmouth, and on some parts of coastal route 1A in Hampton and Rye.

Watch: NHPR's Dan Tuohy captured conditions in Rye Beach this afternoon

Skiers find silver lining in Exeter

Heavy snow and high winds are keeping cars off the roads, but drawing skiers out to local trails. In Exeter, where the snow has been falling steadily since this morning, a hearty group of adults met up for some adventure.

“Being out in a blizzard, out with my friends, it is like being a little kid,” said John Richards.

John Richards, Sean McDermott, Andrea Hrynchuk, and Kate Schwartz take advantage of blizzard conditions on the ski trails in Exeter, NH
Credit Todd Bookman for NHPR

Apparently, conditions are good, if you like skiing in a blizzard. His ski buddy Andrea Hrynchuk agreed that it felt wonderful to be out of doors after a week of frozen weather. Still, she looks forward to the apres ski.

“I will shed some layers, jump in a hot shower - I’ve had no heat for two days - and make some hot soup and do some sewing, maybe some yoga. Taking advantage of every moment of the day.”

The National Weather Service expanded its blizzard warning, including as far west as Manchester.

Thursday, 12:50 PM:

With strong winds and rapid snowfall, the streets of Salem are mostly empty this afternoon.

Wendy Root was outside shoveling her driveway. She told NHPR's Paige Sutherland she enjoys these winter storms.

"This is normal – that’s why we are still up here and not in Florida. It makes you feel alive.”

Root says she’ll be spending the rest of the day inside knitting a sweater for her grandchild. But she'll be out again soon – to do more shoveling.

Photo: Residents gather at a warming shelter in Rochester

Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

As the blizzard bears down on New Hampshire’s Seacoast, some are turning to warming shelters to wait it out.

Inside the Rochester National Guard station, there’s a large open area with cots, food, blankets, and even toys for the kids.

It’s what organizers believe is the only overnight warming shelter on the Seacoast.

Elizabeth Atwood is with SOS Recovery, one of the non-profits that partnered with the city of Rochester and the state to set up the shelter. She says dozens of people are currently staying there.

“About 70 percent are from the Rochester area. But we have started to see an increase in outside towns bringing people in. I mean even the second night we had people from Hampton and Maine and the Manchester area.”

Organizers say the shelter will remain open indefinitely. They urge anyone who needs a warm place to dial 2-1-1 or to contact their local law enforcement agency.

UPDATE, Thursday morning:

A winter storm has arrived in New Hampshire and will move throughout the state today.

Tom Hawley is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. He says the the heaviest snowfall is expected along the Seacoast in places like Hampton Beach and Portsmouth.

"There's also a coastal flood threat. The tides are very high because of the supermoon we had just a few days ago, and we're looking at a moderate flood threat at the coast at the time of high tide this afternoon, especially in towns like Hampton and Hampton Beach."

Hawley says the storm should clear out of all of New Hampshire by late tonight . He says there may be a need for wind chill warnings or advisories on Friday and Saturday.

Heavy snow began flying Thursday morning along Ocean Boulevard in Rye.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

UPDATE, Wednesday: The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for coastal New Hampshire on Thursday, with a winter storm warning for the rest of the Granite State.

The forecast calls for as much as 15 or 16 inches of snow on the Seacoast. 

A coastal flood watch is in effect Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Weather Service estimated accumulation of between 4- and 8- inches for the rest of the state, but those projected totals were increasing Wednesday afternoon. Some estimates, on the high end, included Concord with 9 inches, Londonderry and Manchester with 11 inches, and parts of Rockingham County in southeastern New Hampshire possibly getting a foot of snow.

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(An earlier story follows below here:)

Possible snowfall for Thursday.
Credit National Weather Service

A storm watch is in effect for New Hampshire on Thursday, with a strong coastal winter storm expected to bring high winds and up to a half a foot of snow for parts of Rockingham County.

Light to moderate snowfall is in the forecast for the rest of the state, according to the National Weather Service. The possibility of strong wind could make this storm difficult. Wind gusts may reach 20 to 30 mph for the eastern part of the state.

The nature of this storm pattern has weather watchers tracking its development and potential to see bombogenesis, a rapid pressure drop phenomenon that accompanies major storms.

The National Weather Service has issued the winter storm watch to be in effect from 7 a.m. Thursday to noon Friday. At that time, Granite Staters can expect bitterly cold air from Canada to arrive.

Predicted temperatures Friday night include:

Concord -11, Durham -8, Nashua -6; North Conway -15, Keene -11, Lebanon -17, and Berlin -25.