Sun and fun grip NH as records fall, but it's back to gray and cold todayBy JASON SCHREIBER and JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondents
February 21. 2018 10:20PM
Winter took a break on Wednesday as unseasonably warm weather streamed into New Hampshire, shattering records for all-time high temperatures for the month of February and sending thousands of sunbathers to Hampton Beach and others to the slopes.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be this nice or this crowded for February,” said Nicole Lincoln, an Exeter mom whose 19-month-old triplets, Bennett, Blake and Bryson, spent the summer-like day playing with their toys in the beach sand as temperatures soared into the 70s.
The brief warmup was expectex to come to a crashing halt overnight, with temperatures back into the 30s today with some rain and snow showers, according to Eric Sinsabaugh, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.
Concord saw its warmest February day on record with a high of 74 degrees. The previous all-time high for any day in February was 69, recorded last year.
The temperature in Manchester climbed to 75 by mid-afternoon, breaking a record for the day of 60 degrees set in 1953.
The warmth also reached Mouth Washington. At 12:30 p.m., the Mount Washington Observatory tied a meteorological winter (December, January and February) high temperature of 48 degrees, matching a temperature set on Jan. 13, 2013, said weather observer and meteorologist Tom Padham.
Wednesday was also the first time in the current meteorological winter that the observatory has reported no snow on the ground. There are patches, but overall, there’s a lot of dry ground and run-off on trails around the summit, said Padham, who conceded that the situation was “a little depressing.”
Later this week, the high temperatures on Mount Washington will drop into the teens, said Padham, but even so, they’ll still be about 10 degrees above the average February high of 7.
But many suffering from cabin fever didn’t want to think about the return to winter.
Tanya Gonzalez of Exeter wanted to savor every moment of her day in the sun at Hampton Beach with her 3-year-old son, Sawyer, her friend Destiny Murphy of Fremont and her son, Branden, also 3.
“It’s been a long winter inside so it’s nice to get the kids outside in warm weather,” she said, adding that the youngsters weren’t fazed when they jumped into the 39-degree ocean.
While most of the beach stores, restaurants and other businesses along Ocean Boulevard are still closed for the season, Chuck Rage decided to open up his Rexall store for one day only. He said it was worth it as he had a steady stream of customers inside and outside checking out the beach towels and other merchandise on the sidewalk.
Rage lives in Hampton and had plenty of inventory to open for the day.
In northern New Hampshire, skiers and snowboarders were enjoying the spring-like conditions.
The two last weeks of February — school vacation weeks in Massachusetts and New Hampshire — are crucial to the bottom line for the state’s alpine and cross country resorts, said Loon Mountain Resort spokesman Greg Kwasnik.
The time period is “right up there with Christmas and New Year’s,” Kwasnik said.
At Cannon Mountain, marketing manager Greg Keeler said there is still plenty of snow on the ground, and warm-ups are part of the season. Besides, with the return of cold weather later this week, Cannon can make more snow if needed, he said.
While not affecting alpine ski areas, the warmth shut down the Mt. Washington Auto Road’s snow coach on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Vans that are outfitted with tracks instead of tires, the snow coaches have been running up the Auto Road since December, said Howie Wemyss, the attraction’s general manager.
“Long-term it’s not a big deal,” said Wemyss, and given “so many ups and downs this year, it’s funny in a way.”