Residents heed calls for safety, patience during blizzard
Much of the state was hit with more than 2 feet of powdery snow before the storm tapered off Saturday afternoon and skies cleared enough to illuminate just how much piled up in less than 24 hours.
New Boston, with 30.4 inches, received the highest snowfall total, while Goffstown was slightly behind at 28 inches, according to snowfall totals compiled by the National Weather Service.
"We're lucky, I guess," said Dwight Lovejoy, chairman of the New Boston Board of Selectmen.
Lovejoy said the town "basically shut down" at noon Friday, with people encouraged to stay home. He said plows continued Saturday to try to keep roads clear and that no problems, such as accidents or fires, were reported to town officials.
"We're just tucking in," he said. "We're good so far."
That wasn't the case everywhere.
The Grimshaw-Gudewicz Activity Center - known as the "Bubble" - at Franklin Pierce University collapsed under the weight of the snow. Fortunately, it happened late enough that no one was inside at the time and there were no injuries. The roof is supported by constant air flow between two layers of plastic material. The bubble also collapsed during the 2008 ice storm.
The center serves as an indoor recreation area for the school and a practice site for the university's athletic program during inclement weather.
There was some flooding on the Seacoast, leading to some messy cleanup but no indications of serious damage.
At least eight communities got 2 feet of snow or more, while at least an additional 10 received more than 20 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
Gov. Maggie Hassan, who had declared a state of emergency Friday night as the storm intensified, asked state residents to remain cautious.
"Though it may seem like the storm has eased in many areas, we will continue to see strong winds into the afternoon hours, leading to heavy drifting and dangerous driving conditions," she said in a statement. "In addition, we are closely watching developments on the Seacoast as we reach high tide and the risk of flooding increases. Our state emergency response personnel stand ready to assist local communities in any way possible to respond to any flooding. Please be extremely cautious if you see flooding, and alert your local first responders as soon as possible."
Hassan on Friday asked residents to stay off the roads after 7 p.m., but stopped short of issuing an order similar to that of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who banned all traffic in Massachusetts, with a few exceptions, effective at 4 p.m. Friday. The Bay State ban remained in effect on Saturday.
Police said people seemed to heed the warnings and stayed home during the storm.
Nashua police Sgt. Robert Page reported very few accidents resulted from the snowstorm there.
"To me, it seems like everything shut down," he said. "A lot of the businesses that are usually open were closed, and that kind of gave people no reason to be out. I think that helped a little bit."
In Portsmouth, Sgt. Kuffer Kaltenborn reported the city was "doing remarkably well."
"It sounds like most everyone heeded the warnings and recommendations to stay inside," he said.
In a release, state Fire Marshal J. William Degnan asked residents to keep portable generators at least 10 feet away from a home and keep snow away from heating vents to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide. He also encouraged people to report downed lines to utility companies, make sure snow was cleared from doorways to allow a quick escape in an emergency and to use snow rakes from the ground, rather than climbing a ladder, to clear snow from roofs.
The city of Manchester closed its emergency operations center Saturday morning. A city-wide parking ban continues until noon today, according to a release from Mayor Ted Gatsas.
Staff reporters Shawne Wickham and Doug Alden contributed to this report, along with correspondents.