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Snowstorm sweeps through capital region

  • Brianna Young, 6, left, jumps down a hill while playing outside her Franklin home with her sisters, from right, Kylie Young, 7, and Madison Young, 3, on Thursday afternoon, January 2, 2013. The three sisters were outside enjoying a snowday from school.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Brianna Young, 6, left, jumps down a hill while playing outside her Franklin home with her sisters, from right, Kylie Young, 7, and Madison Young, 3, on Thursday afternoon, January 2, 2013. The three sisters were outside enjoying a snowday from school.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Highway crews work to clear snow from roads on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, in Henniker, N.H. About 6 to 10 inches of snow is expected in the southern half of New Hampshire, and up to a foot in the Seacoast area. Lesser amounts are expected farther north. The storm is expected to last into Friday morning. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Highway crews work to clear snow from roads on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, in Henniker, N.H. About 6 to 10 inches of snow is expected in the southern half of New Hampshire, and up to a foot in the Seacoast area. Lesser amounts are expected farther north. The storm is expected to last into Friday morning. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Brianna Young, 6, left, jumps down a hill while playing outside her Franklin home with her sisters, from right, Kylie Young, 7, and Madison Young, 3, on Thursday afternoon, January 2, 2013. The three sisters were outside enjoying a snowday from school.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Highway crews work to clear snow from roads on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, in Henniker, N.H. About 6 to 10 inches of snow is expected in the southern half of New Hampshire, and up to a foot in the Seacoast area. Lesser amounts are expected farther north. The storm is expected to last into Friday morning. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

A menacing blend of snow, wind and cold swept across New England and into the capital region, closing one side of the interstate yesterday morning and many schools for the day.

The state police shut down Interstate 93 northbound near Bow Junction for nearly two hours yesterday morning after at least nine vehicles, including two tractor-trailers, were involved in several accidents, officials said. Emergency crews from Concord and Bow responded, treating passengers for minor injuries and transporting three people to Concord Hospital. No serious injuries were reported. The collisions were still under investigation as of late afternoon.

The Concord police responded to about 14 vehicle accidents between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m., spokesman Lt. Timothy O’Malley said. None of them appeared serious. A ban on street parking in the city is in effect through 7 a.m. today.

Yesterday afternoon, poor conditions led the state Department of Transportation to say no one should be driving faster than 45 mph on any New Hampshire road.

“This is a cold storm, and black pavement can be deceiving when anti-icing chemicals have limited effectiveness,” said DOT Director of Operations Bill Janelle. “Conditions in many locations may be worse than they appear.”

The storm led to 20 school closings in Greater Concord, from Allenstown and Bishop Brady to Weare and Winnisquam. Libraries and municipal offices in a half-dozen towns were closed, as were Concord Senior Transit, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinic in Concord, the Salvation Army and the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Many flights out of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport were delayed or canceled.

As of mid-afternoon, neither PSNH, Unitil nor the New Hampshire Electric Co-op were reporting any major power outages, though weather conditions were expected to worsen last night.

Forecasts for Concord predicted a total accumulation of 8 to 12 inches by the storm’s end about midday today.

The National Weather Service issued an advisory warning of gusts up to 25 mph and said the windchill last night could be as cold as 20 below. Temperatures may not rise out of the single digits during the day today.

An official at the Edna McKenna House said the homeless shelter, on Fruit Street, had 26 residents and was operating at capacity. Terry Blake, director of the cold weather shelters run out of the First and South Congregational churches, said they, too, were hovering at their maximum, between 55 and 60 people. Some residents had been sent up from Manchester as shelters there were running out of space, Blake said.

Though she had not had to turn anyone away yet, Blake advised anyone seeking help to consider reaching out to friends with beds or other indoor accommodations. She said she knew of a few people who had pooled their money for hotel rooms, which, unlike the church shelters, include hot showers.

Across New England, cities mobilized plows and salt spreaders and state offices sent workers home early. Some major highways were ordered closed overnight. Airlines canceled more than 1,800 flights nationwide yesterday.

The storm was to provide a first test for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a day after he was sworn in to lead the nation’s largest city, and a last one for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, a few days before he ends 20 years in office.

Menino announced a parking ban and said schools would be closed today in Boston, where up to 14 inches of snow was expected. Boston’s airport said it would not handle any flights after 8:30 last night.

“What a New Year’s gift, to receive one last snowstorm as mayor,” said Menino, whose successor takes office Monday.

(Staff writer Jeremy Blackman contributed to this story. He can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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