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Here comes the snow: A foot or more tonight through Tuesday night

Union Leader Correspondent

March 18. 2013 3:46PM

Spring arrives Wednesday, but don't be fooled.

A strong late-winter storm is expected to plaster New Hampshire today with anywhere from 12 to 16 inches of snow across much of the state.

"It's not very spring like. We're just stuck in this pattern," said Stacie Hanes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

Winter storm warnings were issued for the entire state as the latest coastal storm moves in with heavy snow expected — at times dropping 1 to 2 inches an hour.

The snow was expected to lighten up later Tuesday morning before another heavy burst in the afternoon, Hanes said.

Because it's late March, Hanes said the snow will be heavier in southern areas, increasing the chance of scattered power outages with the wet snow clinging to trees and power lines.

While the snow may mix with some rain along the coast, Hanes said it's expected to fall mostly as snow.

Unlike other powerful storms that have whipped the state this winter, this one will have lighter winds, with gusts reaching about 20 mph, Hanes said.

The storm comes just as the snow from several big storms in February — including record snowfall during the February blizzard — was melting away and leaving behind a muddy mess.

"I was looking forward to the last snowstorm being the last snowstorm," said Elaine White, 69, as she took a brisk walk through downtown Exeter Monday afternoon on her way to return a book to the Exeter library.

White is looking forward to spring, but as a New Englander she's used to snow in late March and even April.

It looked more like spring inside Stillwells Riverwalk Ice Cream in Exeter, one of the few ice cream shops around that's open through the winter.

Co-owner Stephen Markot said business hasn't been too bad even with all the snowstorms, but he wouldn't have minded another winter like the one last year, when temperatures soared into the 80s in March. The unseasonably warm weather was good for winter ice cream sales.

"There's a big difference this year because of the weather," he said.

Still, the cold temperatures and threat of more snow didn't stop Brenda Gargas and Karin Tenney-Helfrich from grabbing an ice cream during their lunch break in downtown Exeter.

"This is the prelude to spring," Gargas, of Fremont, said as she prepared to dive into her cup of purple cow frozen yogurt.

With maple sugar season in full swing, Tenney-Helfrich of Exeter decided to go with maple walnut ice cream.

"It's New England," she said. "We eat ice cream any time."

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