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NH riding winter's roller coaster

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 05. 2014 9:34PM
Smythe Knight of Hooksett, with her daughters Emma, left, and Molly, wait to pick up a family friend on a delayed arrival while at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport Sunday evening. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

A roller coaster ride of temperatures stranded travelers at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport Sunday and will see the mercury drop from the upper 40s to single digits today.

At the center of the air traffic delays was O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, the nation's second-busiest and a major hub for flights. Ice and snowstorms in the Midwest canceled more than 2,500 flights nationwide.

"Airlines don't like to fly in freezing rain; it's the worst condition for them," said Tom Malafronte, spokesman for Manchester's airport.

A wintry mix is expected to change to rain today. But the National Weather Service said temperatures will fall dramatically tonight and will not climb above 20 Tuesday and Wednesday.

Manchester firefighters responded to a cold-related sprinkler pipe break in a vacant store Sunday, District Fire Chief Al Poulin said.

"It shattered actually," Poulin said. "There was quite a bit of water inside, and it spread to floors in the stores on either side."

Poulin said about $40,000 in damage was done to the vacant storefront at 30 March Ave., along with Boston Chicken at 14 March Ave. and Dots clothing store at 5 March Ave.

"We responded to a couple dozen water breaks," said Poulin. "Every engine company had at least two or three water breaks they were called to Sunday."

Poulin asked that residents help his department by clearing hydrants and city street drains of snow, and also recommended they clear off flat roofs as soon as possible.

"Anything they can do to help us locate a hydrant quickly is helpful," said Poulin. "And with the roofs, the snow acts like a sponge, and with rain forecast the snow will soak that up and get heavy very quickly."

Several apartments of a public housing complex that serves elderly and disabled residents in Manchester found their units uncomfortably colder than usual Sunday morning, after a problem with the building's heating system.

Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority officials said the issue was limited to nine of the 100 units in the Thomas B. O'Malley high-rise complex on Chestnut Street, with the temperature falling to a low of 62 degrees in some of the affected units Saturday night.

The difficulty getting the heating system to perform properly began when a pipe burst in a radiator mounted on an outside wall, said maintenance director John McGrath.

The rupture caused a loss in pressure and the formation of air bubbles in the forced hot water system. The air in the system kept properly heated water from reaching some radiators, he said.

McGrath said crews were called in to "bleed" the heating system to remove the air and restore the complex to full heating capacity.

MHA workers took readings in several apartments and found temperatures ranging from 62-73 degrees on Saturday evening and no apartments with a temperature of under 65 degrees by midday on Sunday.

Executive Director Dick Dunfey said the housing authority did a well-being check on residents and made space heaters available as needed.

Dunfey noted that community rooms in the building had adequate heat and could accommodate residents if they found their apartments unbearably cold.

Maintenance workers completed the repairs Sunday afternoon, McGrath said.

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