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Weekend storm leaves thousands in dark

Union Leader Correspondent

December 30. 2013 8:51PM

As utility crews spent Monday restoring power to thousands left in the dark after a storm dumped heavy wet snow on parts of the state Sunday night, forecasters were tracking another potential nor’easter that could threaten New England Thursday and Friday.

“It’s still a few days away so it’s something we’ll have to keep an eye on. Whether it will be a blockbuster we’re not 100 percent sure,” said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

A coastal storm is expected to gather strength Thursday as it moves toward New England, but its track is not etched in stone.

Hawley said New Hampshire could see a “big nor’easter” with heavy snow and wind if the storm moves up the coast, but a lighter snow event if it heads out to sea farther south.

No matter which track the storm takes, cold air will be in place across central and northern New England.

A surge of Arctic air was expected to move into the region Monday night. A wind chill advisory was issued for Coos County for dangerous wind chill values as low as minus 29 degrees.

Hawley said the cold air mass will filter into the state over the next day or two, with highs today only reaching the teens in the north and lows 20s in southern areas.

Temperatures are expected to dip below zero north and into the single digits south tonight, with highs on Wednesday likely below zero in northern Coos County, Hawley said.

While it’ll be frigid, Hawley said forecasters aren’t anticipating record-breaking cold temperatures.

Meanwhile, utility companies continued to make progress on the outages in the wake of Sunday’s storm.

Public Service of New Hampshire saw a peak of about 10,000 customers without power after snow brought down trees and limbs onto power lines and equipment.

PSNH spokesman Martin Murray said the Claremont and Newport regions were the hardest hit.

Claremont received about 6 inches of snow. Alexandria and Unity topped the snow-depth list with 11 inches, while Ossipee recorded 7. Laconia and Alton both got about 2 and 1/2 inches.

By mid-afternoon Monday, Murray said PSNH crews were making “steady progress” and reported about 2,300 customers still without power. All customers were expected to be restored by midnight.

PSNH officials were also keeping an eye on the possible storm for later this week, but aren’t expecting significant problems because the snow will be dry and light.

Crews from New Hampshire Electric Cooperative were also busy restoring power after approximately 8,000 of its customers were without power at the height of the storm.

By Monday afternoon, NHEC spokesman Seth Wheeler said less than 100 customers remained without power in the western part of the state. They were expected to be back online by nightfall.

“The damage to the system was not as bad as feared. Most outages were caused by tree limbs sagging under the weight of snow and making contact with lines, not breaking and damaging wires and poles,” he said.

Unitil experienced about 2,600 outages in the Concord area during the storm.

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