As New Hampshire residents set about digging out from under snow left behind by the second nor’easter to hit the region in less than a week, the state's utilities were reporting thousands without power.
Some areas might not have electricity restored for several days.
Meanwhile, forecasters are already watching another storm that could hit early next week.
Nearly 60,000 homes and businesses were without power statewide as of 10 a.m., mostly in southeast areas. By 1:30 p.m., the statewide number had dropped to about 46,000 customers without power.
Salem was hit hard with 11,548 customers without electricity or nearly 80 percent of the town while 98.4 percent of Pelham was in the dark, according to Liberty Utilities’ website.
At 1:30 p.m., Salem was down to 9,332 or 64 percent without power, while Pelham was at 5,410 out, or 95.4 percent.
Liberty Utilities warned on Twitter it “could be a multi-day restoration” and its website said some customers won’t be restored until 6 p.m. Sunday.
"This will be a multi-day restoration effort," said Liberty Utilities spokesman John Shore. "We hope to have the bulk of customers back by Saturday. Some may take as long as Sunday."
He said there was " extensive damage to wires, poles and other electrical equipment."
Eversource, which during the morning reported more than 17,000 customers without power, tweeted: "Trees weighed down by heavy, wet (snow) have caused significant damage, mostly in the southeastern region."
When customers called the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem on Thursday morning, a woman volunteered: “We do have electricity.”
The employee said “we had so many people call” asking about the mall’s status.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the entire state that remains in effect until 1 p.m. today, with forecasters calling for 12 to 18 inches of wet, heavy snow. The greatest snowfall appeared to be in a band between Rochester and Nashua, east of Manchester and west of the Seacoast. Sunapee, however, topped the state with 18 inches reported, according to the weather service.
Snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour were predicted overnight, setting the stage for slick road conditions for this morning’s commute. Travel was slow throughout the state, with several major thoroughfares closed at various times.
Interstate 95 was closed at Exit 3 in both directions this morning after power lines fell across the highway.
A Tweet went out about the closure around 8:15 a.m. Traffic was rerouted onto Route 1A in Hampton, the state Department of Transportation said. The highway was reopened about 10:30 a.m.
The incident is one of dozens as the state grapples with the storm's effects.
As of 7:15 a.m., state police had responded to 128 accidents since noon on Wednesday, said dispatcher Dot Sheehan.
The rate of accidents was not letting up this morning, but she said it did appear that fewer cars were on the road than normal.
Around 8:30 a.m., an accident in Canterbury closed the passing lane of Interstate 93.
At the Manchester airport, all early and mid-morning flights arriving to and departing from the airport have been canceled.
Police closed Route 4 in Lebanon, just west of Eastman Hill Road, while they investigated a serious crash that occurred just before 6 a.m. That road also was reopened about 10:30 a.m.
Speeds on I-89, I-93, I-293, NH 101, and the Spaulding Turnpike were lowered to 45 mph during the storm.
At 7 a.m., the National Weather Service was reporting almost 15 inches of snow in Windham, and 14 inches in Bedford and Rochester.
Forecasters said anticipated wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph and the heavy snow caused scattered power outages, while splash-over and erosion along the Seacoast could result in hazardous conditions early today, including debris hidden on snow covered roads.
“We have been working closely with state emergency management officials to coordinate preparedness efforts with local communities and utility companies,” said Gov. Chris Sununu. “I encourage those who must travel to use common sense, plan ahead for challenging conditions and exercise extreme caution.”
Sununu and state leaders discussed storm preparedness during a conference call on Wednesday.
The snowfall moved up the press time for the Union Leader to allow drivers more time to deliver the paper.
“Trucking newspapers through snowstorms can be very challenging, especially with our northern truck runs,” Circulation Operations Director Louie Trahan said Wednesday. “Two of them go to the North Country and two go to the western part of the state. We have a great group of drivers with excellent driving skills.”
Officials in Manchester and Nashua declared snow emergencies overnight Wednesday into today. Trash and recycling collection efforts will be delayed in both cities by one day for the remainder of the week, starting today. To assist with snow removal efforts, officials ask that residents not place any materials out for collection on today.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine say after today things quiet down through the weekend, with temperatures climbing into the 40s by Saturday and Sunday. Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead one hour Sunday at 2 a.m.
The next potential storm threat comes Monday, when forecasters say what appears to be another sizable coastal storm is expected to form off the Carolinas. Forecasters said Wednesday it was too early to predict the track of Monday’s storm, though early indicators point toward it passing to the south of New England.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Law Enforcement Division urged snowmobilers to use caution when riding on lakes and ponds.
In a news release, Fish and game officials warned recent warming trends and thaws, as well as rain, have caused ice conditions to deteriorate, particularly along shorelines.
“It is imperative that you personally check the ice thickness on a water body as you venture out on foot or before riding out on a snowmobile or Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle,” said Capt. Dave Walsh, who coordinates OHRV Enforcement and Safety Education for Fish and Game.
“Do not assume that just because the ice is safe in one location that it will be safe 100 yards farther away. If you don’t know, don’t go.”