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Latest winter blast tests Granite Staters

By Jason Schreiber
Union Leader Correspondent

February 13. 2014 9:49PM

A February nor'easter is no match for dedicated flower delivery drivers, especially when it's Valentine's Day.

"There are plenty of four-wheel-drives out there," said Jessica Brown, owner of Ruthie's Flower Shop in Conway.

The latest winter blast brought gusty winds and periods of heavy snow to the state Thursday and today, causing spinouts and crashes on the roads and forcing schools to call snow days.

The nor'easter was expected to dump 8 to 12 inches of snow across much of New Hampshire, with a bit less in coastal areas, said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

The snow didn't stop customers from stopping by Dot's Flower Shop in Exeter to grab something special for their valentine.

"People still seem to be coming out and they're coming in," owner Leigh Smith said Thursday. Bob Regan of Brentwood left work early because of the snow and figured it was a good time to pick up a Valentine's Day card at the Hallmark store and a bouquet of flowers from Dot's.

"They're for the kids to give to Mom," he said as he placed them in the car and prepared to venture back out onto the snow-covered roads.

Smith said some flower deliveries planned for Valentine's Day were made Wednesday before the storm hit. And the recipients didn't mind.

"It's better to get them there (early) than to not get them there at all," she said.

On standby

While forecasters didn't expect the combination of wind and heavy wet snow to cause any significant power outages, utility companies were 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.

Hampton-based Unitil Corp. said it secured additional third-party crews to help out at each of its regional operation centers.

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

Road woes

Meanwhile, the slick road conditions led to numerous accidents.

A tractor-trailer jack-knifed on Route 101 in Hampton while vehicle rollovers were reported on Interstate 93 in Concord, Canterbury and Gilmanton. In Newbury, a vehicle reportedly overturned and struck a utility pole, knocking down the pole and wires.

Some police and fire departments called in extra crews to handle the influx of calls.

Hampstead police Lt. John Frazier said his department brought in an additional officer.

"We called an extra officer in on top of our normal shift rotation just in case, but most people have been off the road. So far so good," he said late Thursday afternoon.

Most towns in the Lakes Region had all of their plows out by late Thursday afternoon, preparing for commuters.

Brian Sullivan, Franklin's director of municipal services, said the traffic was minimal in the area in the afternoon.

"It's coming down heavy, but there's not a lot of traffic, and we are thankful for that," he said.

Sullivan said the temperature was making for a heavier, somewhat icier snowfall.

"This snow has that funny texture; it's deceptive. It can be very slippery, but it's not that really slippery snow," Sullivan said.

Correspondent Dan Seufert contributed to this report.

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