Northwood highway worker John Currier took a break from plowing when he heard a cracking sound.
Currier had parked his truck on Blakes Hill Road just after noon on Wednesday and was standing outside. He quickly realized that the cracking was a large pine tree coming down.
“It was scary. I got out to eat my lunch. I heard the crack. I looked and here it comes. I ran to the other side of my truck,” he said.
Currier just missed getting struck by the tree, which fell during a messy storm that brought heavy, wet snow, ice and rain to parts of the state.
Thousands of outages were reported across the state, but power was restored to most by the end of the day.
Hundreds of schools delayed their openings or canceled classes for the day due to the icy road conditions.
In Northwood, school openings were initially delayed, but officials later decided to keep them closed.
Currier said branches were “snapping everywhere” and “cars were off the road all over the place on Route 4.
Road conditions were worse away from the coast where snow and ice were a bigger problem.
It was especially tough going on Interstates 89 and 93, but State Police Capt. Chris Vetter said he wasn’t aware of any serious accidents.
“It was busier in the northern and western part of the state. They certainly had more snow than we did in the southern part of the state,” Vetter said.
An inch or two of snow fell in far southern areas, but several inches were reported in central and northern locations.
William Boynton, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said it was the second day in row with a storm that arrived before the morning commute.
Sleet and freezing rain moved across the state Tuesday night, but then began again as rain in the southwest corner early Wednesday morning and became freezing rain and sleet in southern areas with heavy snow to the north.
“This kind of snow can pack into ice under traffic. Just a bad combination of wet snow during the morning commute. It cleaned up pretty well once traffic died down and temperatures got up above freezing,” Boynton said.
He said Route 16 in Albany and Route 120 in Cornish and Claremont were closed for a time due to downed trees and wires.
Eversource reported more than 20,000 customers were without power at the height of the storm. Company spokesman Kaitlyn Woods said most of the outages were caused by trees falling onto lines.
Approximately 21,000 customers had power back by late Wednesday afternoon. More than 800 remained without power at 5 p.m., but Woods said crews were working quickly and safely to make repairs and urged customers to stay away from downed power lines and report them to 911.
New Hampshire Electric Cooperative reported more than 18,000 outages. The largest outages were in Moultonborough and Meredith. The company said several hundred were expected to remain without power overnight.
Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara said the utility experienced about 600 outages in the morning, mostly in the Concord area.
“It appears that the higher volumes of wet, heavy snow ended up falling just north of our service region,” he said.
O’Meara said the company was keeping an eye on the potential for some winds expected Wednesday night that could damage trees still covered with snow.
The storm system was expected to move into the Canadian Maritimes on Thursday as cold high pressure settles into the region.
According to the National Weather Service, northwesterly winds and snow showers are expected in the mountains on Thursday into Friday with clear skies and cold temperatures through the upcoming weekend.