Blizzard sweeps through Concord, breaking snowfall records
Rachelle Lowe, digs out the sidewalk around her mailbox in Concord on Saturday, February 9, 2013 as the sunshine starts to peek through. "Winter is just something to get through," Lowe said. The Nor'easter that came through New England dropped about two feet of snow moved on by Saturday afternoon.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
Doug Walker, of Concord, cross country skis down Washington Street Saturday early afternoon, February 9, 2013. He said it was his second time out this season due to the lack of snow before the Nor'easter blanketed the region with a few feet.
(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
The blizzard that swept across New England this weekend brought Concord’s largest snowstorm in 125 years.
Two feet of snow fell in Concord before stopping yesterday afternoon. The blizzard ranks second in history behind a March 1888 storm that dropped more than 27 inches of snow in Concord, according to the National Weather Service.
But the nor’easter didn’t cause much damage or chaos: The police reported no major crashes yesterday, and utility companies dealt with few power outages.
“I think everybody just hunkered down,” said Concord police Lt. John Zbehlik.
State officials said the biggest problem caused by the storm was flooding at Hampton Beach. Route 1A was closed yesterday after an “astronomical high tide” combined with the storm to flood the area, said Department of Safety spokesman Jim Van Dongen.
Gov. Maggie Hassan declared a state of emergency Friday, but the state’s emergency operations center was closed by late yesterday afternoon.
“We got out of this better than a lot of other states,” Van Dongen said. “People did stay off the roads.”
Yesterday’s snowfall created a new Concord record for the most snow in one day; 16.2 inches of the storm’s total fell yesterday, according to the National Weather Service. That broke the previous 1969 record of 10 inches.
A snow-covered Concord was nearly deserted yesterday morning.
Along Main Street, many business owners posted handwritten signs informing customers they were waiting out the storm. On the sidewalks, untouched snow covered newspaper boxes and trash cans as plows kept to the streets.
At The Works Bakery Cafe on North Main Street, employees burst into applause for customers who ventured into the storm for a warm breakfast. Saturday mornings are usually crowded, employees said, but by 11:30 a.m. the bagel shop had made just $285 in sales.
Concord resident Chloe Bussiere traveled through the snow yesterday morning for a hair cut at Posh Hair Studio in Capital Plaza. She didn’t want to miss her appointment, but when she arrived she learned that the salon was open just for her.
“Everybody canceled but me,” she said.
After stopping for coffee and a bagel, Bussiere said she was going home – “where it’s safe.”
Pam Peterson sat at the window of The Works Bakery Cafe yesterday morning, looking out at a snowy Main Street.
Peterson, who owns Gondwana Divine Clothing Co., put on her snowpants and walked downtown to clear the snow in front of her store. After shoveling, she walked across the street to sip coffee and contemplate whether she should open.
“I think it’s beautiful,” Peterson said, gesturing out the window. “But I am concerned about everybody on the road.”
She did open her shop in the afternoon, hopeful that customers would come out as the blizzard ended.
By noon, the hum of snowblowers and scraping of plows and shovels could be heard from many city streets.
But roads were still snow-covered yesterday evening.
“To be honest, the crews are keeping up as best they can,” Concord Highway Superintendent Jim Major wrote in an email yesterday morning. “The one good thing is that people are staying home.”
Winds and drifting snow made it difficult to clear the roads, Major said, but the city had 26 machines working non-stop from Friday morning through last night.
At the Friendly Kitchen yesterday afternoon, a few dozen people sat at tables, reading, napping or talking quietly as volunteers began to prepare dinner. A few men huddled outside, smoking cigarettes and watching the howling wind whip snow across the open field next door.
People were “mostly staying put” inside the soup kitchen, said staff member Dave Pellecchia. Some left briefly to check on their homeless camps he said, and a small number of people remained outside at homeless camps.
“They’ve been invited in, but some just like to stay out,” he said.
The Friendly Kitchen’s building on South Commercial Street remained open all day, offering food and warmth until Concord’s overnight shelters opened last night.
Pellecchia, who is also homeless, said the storm lengthened his trek yesterday morning to the Friendly Kitchen; the middle of the road was the only place to walk.
“Normally there’s fields to cut through or parking lots to cut through,” he said.
The Friendly Kitchen will also stay open throughout the day today, manager Jennifer Lombardo said.
Back to speed
Many flights in and out of the Manchester airport were canceled yesterday, but some arrived last night, according to the airport’s website. As of last night, several flights were scheduled to depart this morning.
Concord Coach Lines canceled all bus service yesterday. Most routes will begin running again by this afternoon, according to the company’s website.
The U.S. Postal Service canceled deliveries and closed post offices throughout New England yesterday.
At some points during the day yesterday, utility companies’ maps showed scattered outages. Public Service of New Hampshire had some outages in Epsom, Northwood and Deerfield yesterday afternoon. By 8 p.m., PSNH was reporting its only outages were affecting less than 330 customers in Pembroke and Allenstown.
Yesterday morning, Unitil’s outage map showed some customers without power near the Seacoast. The company closed its emergency operating centers yesterday afternoon, with no outages reported by 8 p.m. last night.
Some used the blizzard as a chance to have fun. Concord resident Josh Pincoske didn’t let the snow stop his family from a routine of Saturday breakfast at True Brew Barista.
“We got to walk in the middle of the road because the sidewalks weren’t plowed,” he said.
White Park was filled with sledders yesterday afternoon, even as gusts of wind blew snow across the open space and ripped sleds from children’s hands.
The snow was like “white gold from the sky” at Pats Peak in Henniker, General Manager Kris Blomback said. Anxious skiers were waiting in line before the chairlifts began running yesterday morning. It’s “going to be bonkers” today, Blomback predicted, as more skiers leave their homes to enjoy the forecasted sunny weather.
“We are grinning ear to ear,” he said. “It’s been a few years in New Hampshire.”
The light and fluffy snow was easily swept into snowdrifts with each wind gust yesterday.
But it also was relatively easy to shovel, said Andrew Hatch, owner of Lotions ’n Potions on North Main Street. He opened yesterday morning, and had to clear his own sidewalk. But opening was worthwhile, he said, and the shoveling wasn’t difficult.
“Although it’s 2 feet deep, you can lift it up in one shovel full,” Hatch said.
Today’s weather will be ideal for more shoveling, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Margaret Curtis. Concord will have sunshine and temperatures reaching nearly 30 degrees, she said.
It will be “a much nicer day to clean up after the mess,” Curtis said.