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Monday storm complicates snow removal, commuting

Union Leader Correspondent

February 11. 2013 8:07PM
The driver of a Pontiac sedan lost control and slammed into the guardrail on Interstate 93 southbound near the Interstate 293 split in Manchester on Monday morning. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MILFORD - While highway departments around the state continued their cleanup efforts from the weekend blizzard that dumped dozens of inches of snow across the Northeast, a smaller storm added insult to injury Monday.

Rick Riendeau, director of public works in Milford, said his crew had a busy weekend and worked more than 33 hours on Friday and Saturday to deal with a Nor'easter that dumped as much as three feet of light, powdery snow in some areas.

"It actually was a pretty decent storm because the snow was so light," said Riendeau, "and it was great that it hit on Friday night, when there were not many people on the road."

Because of the timing of the storm, Riendeau said the department was able to clear the busiest parts of town, including cutting pathways into tall snow banks so folks could use the sidewalks.

"We had our guys out here at 10 o'clock last night and they're still out there now," he said.

But Monday's storm, which started with a few inches of snow before turning to sleet and then rain didn't make the continued cleanup any easier.

In Newmarket, Jan White of the highway department said the efforts to get rid of the large snow piles littered around town were interrupted by the need to send crews out to salt and sand the roads as the morning's snow turned to slush.

In Durham, Director of Public Works Mike Lynch said he's had to split his storm-weary crew into a day and a night shift in order to let some of the workers get some sleep, while the others continue to clear the snow from the weekend storm.

"We've got 22 people and no extras," said Lynch, "but we have to keep clearing the snow. We've got half a dozen sidewalks not open, so that's going to be a priority at night."

Doug Graham of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation in Swanzey said he was pleased it snowed first before changing to rain, though.

"The snow gave the rain something to soak into and that probably helped keep the roads from getting too bad," he said, but the slush can make things tricky on some streets.

"The state roads are all passable, but town roads are a whole different animal, especially the gravel roads because you can't salt them," said Graham.

In Rochester, crews that have been working around the clock since Friday and only going home for breaks will be back out again tonight trying to find a new home for the piles of snow, said acting Highway Director Peter Nourse.

"We've had over 50 people involved since Friday and the roads are looking pretty good," Nourse said, "but tonight we'll be moving the snow over to the fairgrounds."

Nourse said the fairgrounds often become dumping grounds for mini-mountains because it's "conveniently located and there's plenty of room over there."

Homeward bound

The slushy roads prompted many school districts to cancel after-school activities, and towns and organizations postponed meetings and events in order to keep people off the roads. Afternoon kindergarten in many places was also canceled on Monday.

"The temperature is going to play a big part in how slick the roads are going to be, so we'll be keeping an eye on that," said Riendeau.

While town and state workers continue the cleanup, homeowners have been asked by the state Fire Marshal's office to pay attention to some details around their homes as well. Though the snow that fell over the weekend was dry and fluffy, that snow can absorb the rain that falls and become very heavy so homeowners are being asked to clear their roofs to ensure the snow load doesn't become too heavy. Homeowners are also being asked to keep any vents on the side of their houses clear to ensure carbon monoxide and other gases can escape as normal.

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