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Portsmouth Herald

Seacoast NH, Maine hit with snow, rain, wind in intense blast of winter

By Ian Lenahan, Portsmouth Herald,


Pummeling the Seacoast with rain to start, then snow and high winds, a winter storm rapidly accumulated snow Tuesday across New Hampshire and southern Maine, leading to power outages.

Andy Pohl, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's location in Gray, Maine , said communities from southern Maine to southwestern New Hampshire would see 2-3 inches of snowfall per hour over a period of several hours in the afternoon and evening.

“This is a rapidly changing environment now that we have this band setting up,” Pohl said. By 3 p.m., Rochester, for example, had about 7 inches of snow, he said.

“It’s that really heavy, wet stuff,” he said.

The highest snowfall report of the day as of 3 p.m. in New Hampshire was Windsor, a Hillsborough county town, with 20 inches.

Meteorologist Jon Palmer had projected earlier in the day the change from rain along the coast to snow everywhere.

The storm is expected to last into Wednesday, with precipitation to start tapering off around 8 a.m., Palmer said.

What do current snowfall projections look like?

Projections for snow accumulation have not wavered far from earlier forecasts. The majority of the Seacoast and southern Maine, as well as parts of Strafford County, could see a total of 6 to 8 inches of snow, while areas in northern Strafford County and interior York County, including Sanford, may have 12 to 18 inches.

While municipalities in central and northern New Hampshire and Maine are expected to receive lighter snow, southern New Hampshire, the Seacoast and southern Maine are projected to endure heavier, wetter snow, per the National Weather Service.

Wind gusts strong to start the day

The winter storm led to early reports of high winds. At the Isles of Shoals, gusts topped out at 51 mph, while 36 mph gusts hit York County.

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The peak period for strong winds was expected to be 4-9 p.m. Tuesday, Palmer said, with gusts in the Seacoast predicted to hit as high as 50 mph.

“Minor coastal flooding is possible but we think the coastal flooding threat will be with the higher winds,” he said.

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How many people are without power?

Eversource noted that around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, over 66,500 New Hampshire customers were without power , including some in Strafford County.

Local outages: Check out Seacoastonline's power outage tracker

“As power outages start to climb, keep you and your family safe,” said Robert Buxton, director of the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “Never run a generator indoors. If you come across downed wires, stay away and call 9-1-1.”

Electricity supplier Unitil Corporation opened its emergency operation center for the storm, which the company noted could lead to downed wires throughout its service territory.

As of 3 p.m., about 2,100 Unitil customers in New Hampshire were without power.

“Our crews have been working closely with first responders to address safety issues as they work to restore power when possible,” Unitil spokesperson Alec O’Meara said. “With the storm continuing to bear down on the region, travel conditions are expected to remain difficult throughout the afternoon and evening. We encourage people to follow the guidance of local officials, avoid travel if they can and stay safe.”

Stay connected: Follow local news on the Seacoastonline mobile app or the mobile app

How are the roads looking?

New Hampshire State Police shared on social media Tuesday morning that since 5 a.m., troopers around the Granite State had responded to over 60 weather-related calls, including motor vehicle crashes and vehicles sliding off the roads.

“Please avoid unnecessary travel & stay put until the conditions improve,” state police wrote. “If you must go out, drive with caution.”

Parking bans put in place

Portsmouth's snow parking ban took effect at noon Tuesday, except for downtown. Residents were offered flat fee parking for $5 in the High-Hanover garage or $3 in the Foundry Place garage. A downtown parking ban was scheduled for Wednesday, March 15 from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Rochester enacted a citywide parking ban beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday until 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Dover's parking ban was set to last from 7 p.m. Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to the city.

In Somersworth, n o on-street parking was allowed citywide from 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 14 until 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 15.

This story will be updated.

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Seacoast NH, Maine hit with snow, rain, wind in intense blast of winter

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