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February 13. 2014 11:45AM

Strong nor'easter bringing heavy snow, winds to NH


Plow trucks on Route 27 in Exeter were back at it Thursday as this winter's latest nor'easter arrived. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leder Correspondent)

Light to moderate snow from a rapidly intensifying nor'easter arrived in New Hampshire early Thursday morning, causing some spinouts on the roads and forcing schools to call another snow day or send students home early.

Snow began falling shortly after 6 a.m. in southern areas and steadily moved north.

The strong storm responsible for a major snow and ice storm in Georgia and other southern states is expected to dump 8 to 12 inches of snow across New Hampshire, with a little less in coastal areas where the snow will likely change to sleet and freezing rain by early evening.

The big wild card is where that rain/snow/sleet changeover occurs. "We know there's going to be one, but it's hard to tell how far inland it's going to go," said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

Places like Hampton and Portsmouth may change over to all rain for a time while inland areas see more sleet and heavy snow, Hawley said.

The precipitation will change back to snow after midnight, bringing several more inches to western Cheshire, Grafton and Sullivan counties, Hawley said.

The jackpot snow amounts are expected to be in the southwestern corner of the state, where totals could approach 14 inches.

The snow will get heavier through the afternoon, and northeast winds will also pick up, Hawley said.

The storm originated in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to move into the Gulf of Maine Friday morning.

"It's developing quite rapidly and it'll be bringing up a lot of tropical moisture," Hawley said.

The coast may see winds gusting up to 40 mph while Concord and other inland areas will see gusts closer to 30 mph.

Forecasters aren't expecting the combination of wind and heavy wet snow to cause any significant power outages, but utility companies are on guard just in case.

Public Service of New Hampshire, the state's largest utility, said its line trucks were fueled, equipment and materials were ready, and workers were preparing to respond in the event of outages during the storm.

Hampton-based Unitil Corp. said it was securing additional third-party crews to help out at each of its regional operation centers in the event of outages from damage to trees and power lines.

"Wetter, stickier snow can have a greater impact on the system compared to the drier, fluffier stuff. We will be carefully watching the consistency of the snow, the changeover to sleet and/or rain and forecasted wind speeds overnight and into tomorrow, and we will be prepared to address outages, should they occur," Unitil spokesman Alec O'Meara said in a release.

New Hampshire Electric Cooperative's operating districts in 10 locations around the state were also stocked with emergency supplies and additional contracted line and trees crews were placed on standby.


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