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Low snowfall totals extend statewide

Union Leader Correspondent

December 29. 2011 9:05PM
There's only a few inches of hard-frozen snow in the woods surrounding the Swift River's Rocky Gorge by the Kancamagus Highway in Albany, but the ice that drips like candle wax from the gorge's steep walls attests to the chilly temperatures of late December. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX)

On Thursday, a hatless couple, ski tickets dangling from their winter jackets, stopped and took a photo of two very small snowmen perched on a rock near the Kancamagus Highway.

The snowmen had been made before the mercury dropped on Wednesday afternoon, as it would have been impossible to chisel the winter creations out of the boilerplate inch or so of snow on the ground on Thursday.

The same held true for the snow angel a few feet away from the snowmen, which was also on the edge of the trail to the Rocky Gorge walking bridge across the Swift River. The snow angel, its wingspread child-sized, could remain all winter, its outline first saturated by Tuesday night's rain, then flash-frozen by the cold that moved in.

It was a white Christmas for many in the White Mountains, although how much snow was on the ground depended on elevation and local weather idiosyncrasies. In the Mount Washington Valley, snow fell all day on Christmas Day, with little accumulation.

On Dec. 22-23 enough snow fell in Jackson to allow snow groomers at Jackson Ski Touring Center to track some of the nordic trails. The new snow also allowed the center's director, Thom Perkins, to get rid of his whiskers. He'd stopped shaving earlier in the month, vowing not to shave until skiable snow fell. Trails were closed on Wednesday however, as the snow was allowed to dry out before grooming, and skiing, commenced on Thursday.

The Mount Washington Observatory reported a white Christmas on the summit - nine inches of snow, ice and rime on the ground. By Thursday, that cold cover had increased to 15 inches.

As of Wednesday, the summit had received 34.5 inches of snow in December. The average snowfall for the month is 50 inches.

Snow depths on Wednesday in towns throughout northern New Hampshire, as reported by the National Weather Service, varied from a trace to six inches, with the six inches recorded at the Second Connecticut Lake.

North Conway, Pinkham Notch, North Stratford and the First Connecticut Lake all had three inches on the ground.

In Concord, it wasn't much of a white Christmas. On Dec. 8 and again Dec. 17, a trace of snow was observed. Those traces weren't enough to add to the month's snowfall - on Dec. 23 the city got .6 inches of snow, which is listed as the total monthly amount as of Dec. 28. The normal December snowfall total is 14.4 inches.

In the last decade in Concord, no records have been broken for low temperatures, and only once, in 1998, was a record low recorded. The same can't be said of record highs. In the first decade of this century, on five occasions the temperature broke previous highs.

It's still up in the air if the month will go on record as one of the least snowiest, as there are still two days left in the year. On Dec. 31, 2007, Concord received 10 inches of fresh snow. Due to the snowstorm in October, snowfall totals over the last few months are within the normal range, but in New England, what is normal where weather is concerned?

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