Frigid temperatures add to storm's impact
Kids are enjoying an extended Christmas break, thanks to a nasty two-day nor'easter that closed many New Hampshire schools, caused dozens of accidents, and prompted warnings about dangerous wind chills and blizzard conditions near the coast.
The storm that was expected to drop up to 14 inches of wind-blown snow moved in early Thursday and created treacherous driving conditions that sent many vehicles slipping and sliding.
At one point, Interstate 93 in Bow was closed due to multiple accidents.
A New Hampshire state trooper suffered minor injuries when his cruiser was struck while he was parked at an accident scene in North Hampton Thursday.
Sgt. Michael McQuade was sitting in his cruiser along Interstate 95 north when a tractor-trailer and a car collided nearby, State Police Lt. Chris Vetter said.
The car then careened into the back of the cruiser, Vetter said. McQuade had responded to an accident and was parked when his cruiser was hit.
The cruiser sustained significant damage.
By mid-afternoon, Vetter said State Police from Troop A in Epping had responded to nearly 40 accidents or vehicles that slid off roads in the slippery conditions. The bulk of the incidents occurred on I-95 and Route 101 and in many cases resulted from motorists traveling too fast for the slick conditions, he said.
In Greenland, a garbage truck spun out of control and went off I-95. In North Hampton, a fire tanker carrying 3,000 gallons of water slid off an emergency ramp to I-95 north while responding to an accident scene.
North Hampton Fire Chief Dennis Cote said the snow on the ramp "wasn't quite cleared off." The tanker didn't roll over, he said. It was towed and back in service a short time later.
Frigid temperatures in the single digits across much of the state made treating the roads difficult for many town plows and the 700 state plows.
"The lower temperatures have limited the effectiveness of some of our anti-icing chemicals, including salt, which is not effective below 10 degrees. Seeing black pavement may be deceptive for motorists, and slippery spots are likely with vehicles packing down the snow that's falling," said Bill Boynton, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
The surge of bitter cold air associated with the nor'easter was a bit unusual, according to Chris Kimble, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.
Kimble said it's not common to have a storm with such frigid temperatures because there's usually little moisture in the air to create snowfall during extremely cold weather.
Wind-chill values were expected to drop to dangerous levels into Friday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue warnings and advisories.
Forecasters said a combination of near-zero or below zero temperatures and winds gusting 20 to 30 mph would create wind chills of 30 below in the north to 20 below in southern areas Friday.
Saturday will be warm by comparison, with highs hitting the low 20s in the southern part of the state.
Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said officials were planning to keep a close eye on Friday's high tides.
"We are monitoring the flooding conditions and we're prepared to block roadways if flooding becomes a problem," he said.
The biting wind and blowing snow didn't stop others from swinging by Hampton Beach to snap a few pictures.
Elaine Irving of Hampton made a quick visit to grab a photo of the marine memorial that overlooks the ocean, which was barely visible with all the snow and sea smoke.
"Whenever there's a storm like this, we like to come and see what's happening," she said with excitement.
Meanwhile, shoppers took advantage of the lull in the storm Thursday to hit the grocery stores.
"They're braving it. We just figured it would be slow because of the storm, but it far exceeded (expectations). I think people are coming in today because they don't think they're going to get out Friday," said Mark Owens, store manager at the Stratham Market Basket.