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Blizzard warning for NH coast as monster storm nears

Union Leader Correspondent

February 07. 2013 3:36PM

A blizzard warning was issued for coastal New Hampshire for Friday afternoon through much of the day Saturday as an intense Nor'easter takes aim at the region, bringing the potential for up to two feet of snow, strong winds and a serious coastal flooding threat.

The National Weather Service posted the blizzard warning for coastal Rockingham County for 2 p.m. Friday through 4 p.m. Saturday where heavy snow and winds gusting up to 45 mph or higher could create whiteout conditions.

Winter storm warnings were issued for inland areas. The storm, expected to move in Friday morning and last through Saturday, could drop anywhere from a foot to two feet, with the highest amounts in southeastern areas and lesser amounts to the north and west, said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

Coastal flood watches were also issued with the potential for moderate to major coastal flooding.

"We'll be mindful of that and try to spread the word to folks in low-lying areas," said Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan, who is also the town's emergency management director.

The tides are astronomically high, and with a 2.5-foot storm surge and wind-whipped seas building to 15 to 30 feet, Hawley warned coastal residents to take precautions.

"I think there could be some serious concerns on the coast. They should have a plan in place on how to deal with that," he said.

Another concern is blowing and drifting snow, especially in places like Hampton Beach where winds could howl near 60 mph Friday night and Saturday morning. Light snow is expected to break out early Friday morning and pick up in intensity through the afternoon, Hawley said.

"By late afternoon, between 4 and 6 p.m., things will go downhill pretty fast. My advice is to stay home and watch it," Hawley said.

If 20 inches falls in Concord, Hawley said this storm would deliver the fifth-highest total on record. Concord's biggest snowfall on record was 27.5 inches in the Blizzard of 1888. That storm is followed by 22.5 inches in a December 2003 storm and 22.2 inches in the Halloween Nor'easter of 2011.

"This could certainly end up being a Top 10 for Concord and certainly southeast New Hampshire," Hawley said.

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