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November 23. 2011 10:07PM

Just 1 degree was all it took


Light snow creates a haze over Pine River Pond in East Wakefield. The lake can barely be made out through the trees on Wednesday. (LARISSA MULKERN)

The state was split cleanly in half by storms that, depending on the location, brought wet, heavy snow or drenching rains.

“There was a pretty sharp cutoff from rain to snow,” said Eric Schwibs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

Nashua and Manchester had nearly no snow, but each got about 1.5 inches of rain Wednesday. Areas of central and northern New Hampshire were hit with as much as 11 inches of snow, as was the case in Washington, which had the day’s heaviest snowfall. While Manchester had mostly rain, other areas just north of the city in Hillsborough County, including Goffstown, Francestown, Weare and Hillsborough, each received 3 to 5 inches of snow.

“If you were a degree or two warmer, you got a lot of rain instead of snow,” Schwibs said.

Other snowfall totals varied widely. Haverhill had 10 inches, Northfield had 7 inches and Springfield had 9 inches, according to National Weather Service data. Meanwhile, the southeastern section of the state barely had a dusting. Rochester, for example, recorded 1 inch of snow, according to the weather service data.

The storm caused some headaches through the state, with as many as 20,000 electricity customers losing power Wednesday. By 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, the state’s four power companies had restored electricity to all but about 4,000 customers, most of them served by the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative in central and eastern New Hampshire, according to outage reports.

Some schools closed Wednesday, including Goffstown, New Boston and Dunbarton. A number of communities, including Newport and Portsmouth, reported downed trees and power lines on roads.

But the storm wasn’t nearly as problematic as last month’s nor’easter, which knocked out power to nearly 300,000 customers and dumped as much as 31 inches of snow in some areas of the state.

Wednesday’s “storm did not have as large an impact as we’d expected,” said Susan Blothenburg, community relations manager for Public Service of New Hampshire, which had extra crews on standby Wednesday to prepare for the storm’s impact. “Because (the damage) was in a small geographic area, we were able to take the crews and send help quickly.”

She said PSNH expects to have power restored to all of its customers by midnight Wednesday.

“This was one we could tackle and take care of in one day,” she said.

The state Emergency Operations Center in Concord also prepared early, opening at “Level 2” to monitor the storm.

Schwibs said storm damage may have been lessened by the damage already done during last month’s storm.

“That storm took down a lot of limbs,” he said.

“Maybe there just wasn’t that much left to fall” on power lines.


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