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Storm socks NH, knocks out power to 315,000

By Holly Ramer
Associated Press / October 30, 2011

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CONCORD, N.H.—Thousands of New Hampshire residents might not be leaving lights on for trick-or-treaters after a storm dropped more than a foot of snow and pulled down power lines across the state.

The National Weather Service reported nearly two feet of snow in Concord and other parts of the state, with 31.4 inches falling in Jaffrey. About 315,000 customers from four utilities were without power, mostly in the southern part of the state, according to the New Hampshire Department of Public Safety. The number of reported outages rose through Sunday, and utility officials said the hardest hit areas appeared to be the Interstate 93 and Route 3 corridors from Manchester to the Massachusetts border.

"This is a huge number for this state," said department spokesman Jim Van Dongen, who estimated it will likely be at least a few days and could be a week before people get power back. In the meantime, they should be careful when using generators and avoid bringing grills and other items meant for outdoor use inside.

"People sometimes don't do very smart things if they're out of power for a long time," he said. About 70 percent of the outages were Public Service of New Hampshire customers.

The snow left some children with conflicted emotions.

"I was excited, and I was a little upset because it might cancel Halloween," said Nate Smith, 9, of Concord. He and his brother were happy to build a snowman Sunday morning, but disappointed that the light they had put in their jack-o-lantern Saturday night was doused by snow. The pair went trick-or-treating at downtown shops Friday night and weren't sure if they would go out again on Monday night. Smith said he probably would alter his werewolf costume a bit to stay warm.

"I might have to put on snow pants," he said.

In downtown Concord, trees still bright with fall colors were covered with snow. Some didn't survive -- a large oak tree that had stood alongside the Statehouse fell, partially blocking a side street.

A few blocks away, Kellie Ljungholm was awakened at 1 a.m. when a large maple in her front yard crashed to the ground, brushing against her porch but causing no damage.

"It shook the windows," she said. "I've been up since then, wondering if something else was going to happen." Her three children were more excited about the storm: the youngest two already had headed out to a nearby park to go sledding by 9 a.m.

By 8 a.m., Dave Whitcher of C.W. Whitcher and Sons Property Management had already been on the job for eight hours, clearing parking lots of dozens of businesses in and around Concord.

"It was a bit of a surprise, the amount and how heavy it was," he said. "We should've probably come out and got a little earlier start, but we did all right."

After spending Sunday plowing and shoveling, his crews will be back out Monday morning salting sidewalks and walkways.

He said his company wasn't quite ready for winter -- some sanding equipment hadn't been prepped yet.

"We're behind the eight-ball. This is a wakeup call," he said. "We did all right, but it caught us by surprise."

Holding up his shovel, he said, "Me and this guy are going to get to know each other real well today."