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New Hampshire braces for return of polar vortex

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 05. 2018 11:56PM
Derek Greenwood of Manchester Water Works clears snow around a fire hydrant on Lake Avenue in Manchester on Friday while digging out from Thursday's Nor'easter. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

From blizzard conditions to bone-chilling cold.

Wind chills are predicted to hit as low as -45 in some northern and western areas Saturday into Sunday morning while the state’s southern tier faces wind chills dropping as low as -30.

“Just another little piece of the polar vortex,” said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

The weekend cold “should be at least comparable — maybe worse” than a recent cold snap, he said.

Concord’s forecast Saturday high of 2 degrees would be colder than several other single-digit high temperatures measured since late December, Hawley said.

The cold followed a powerful nor’easter that dropped more than a foot of snow over parts of New Hampshire, including the greater Manchester area, on Thursday.

Henniker hit the snowfall jackpot with 15.5 inches.

Londonderry resident Mark Brown spent more than three hours clearing his property.

“It’s a good workout, I’ll tell you,” Brown said. “Burning off all those holiday calories.”

Eversource restored power to more than 9,200 customers, with a peak outage of 4,000 Thursday night.

“The Eversource crews worked through the night to restore power to all customers,” said spokesman Martin Murray.

Brandon Langlois of Manchester was bundled up as he walks past a passageway dug through a snowbank in downtown Manchester on Friday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara said the peak outage at 9 p.m. Thursday totaled around 1,800 customers.

“With extreme cold temperatures likely, we still encourage folks to remain prepared for the potential for outages, and we’ll be ready to roll if anything develops,” O’Meara said.

A wind chill warning is posted for northern and western areas for wind chills of -25 to -45. A wind chill advisory covers the rest of the state for wind chills of between -15 and -30.

Many school districts, including Manchester, canceled classes Friday, some for a second straight day.

“We have a lot of students who walk and the drifting snow will go back over sidewalks,” said Justin Kates, director of Nashua’s Office of Emergency Management.

Nashua opened warming stations and local homeless shelters have seen a significant increase in the number of clients in the past few weeks, Kates said. 

“Thankfully, they have been able to handle the surge and are helping our more vulnerable residents,” Kates said.

Kates also said emergency calls for carbon monoxide situations are rising — mostly because furnace vents are not clear of snow or heaters are malfunctioning. 

Litchfield’s Lester Hall was out in the bitter cold helping plow his neighbors’ driveways, although his equipment wasn’t attached to his truck.

“I was making money with my four-wheeler; I put a plow on it,” he said.

Hawley said the cold snap “could be Mother Nature balancing things out” after an unseasonably warm autumn.

He said the region experienced its coldest December in 1989 and then saw the warmest January the following month.

Southern areas could flirt with the freezing mark Monday.

“Once this goes by, we’ll start moderating and it looks like the cold retreats back into Canada,” Hawley said. “Late next week, we may just get plain rain.”

Union Leader correspondents Chris Garofolo and Kimberly Houghton contributed to this report.

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