A plow truck clears Interstate 93 northbound toward Tilton around midday on Friday. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)
By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
A nor'easter that dumped nearly a foot of snow in Belknap County spared the region the type of widespread power outages plaguing Maine and delighted skiers and snowboarders with fresh powder.
At Gunstock Mountain Resort, all six lifts and 37 out of 55 trails were open Friday. A foot of snow fell on the Gilford resort.
"We've got good lines, we're parking out of the place, and it's a good day for skiers and riders," said Mike Roth, director of marketing and sales, on the heels of the overnight storm. Calling Friday a "bluebird powder day," Roth said the resort eased into its New Year's Eve celebration with ideal conditions.
"Certainly, coming off a drought year last year, this is a nice way to start a season," he said of this winter's consistent snowfall. Gunstock opened Saturday, Dec. 3, roughly when operators hoped to launch.
On Saturday, the ski area will feature the Gunstock Rocks New Year's Eve Celebration, with skiing and riding until 11:30 p.m., followed by live music and family entertainment in the Main Lodge; Smores at the Fire Ring from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Torch Light Parade by the Learning Center at 11:50 p.m.; and the Midnight Mountainside Fireworks.
For more about the Gunstock Rocks New Year's Eve Celebration, visit www.gunstock.com.
The Thursday-into-Friday storm dumped 10.8 inches of snow on E. Laconia; 10.1 inches on southwest Belmont; 9.1 inches on southwest Meredith; and 9 inches on northeast Meredith and Laconia, according to unofficial observations transmitted to the National Weather Service after 11 hours of storm activity.
Highest snowfalls observed in New Hampshire included 20 inches in Bartlett; 17 inches in Ossipee with snowfall counts throughout Carroll County ranging from 10 inches in Wolfeboro to 15 inches in Wakefield; 12 inches in Pembroke; and 17.2 inches on Mount Washington.
Highest snowfalls observed in Maine included 29 inches in Kingfield; 27 inches in Starks and northwest Oxford; and 25 inches in Parsonsfield.
On Thursday, Concord logged record snowfall of 8.3 inches, breaking a 1956 record of 7.1 inches; and the weather service reported 22.3 inches of snow accumulated in Concord for the month.
New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, which serves 83,000 homes and businesses in 115 New Hampshire communities, reported only a scattering of outages.
"We were definitely spared the worst of it, the highest (level) in outages that we saw was 1,000 members," said spokesman Seth Wheeler.
The brunt of outages came between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Thursday, with the Deerfield and Thornton areas hardest hit, he said.
Those outages generally resulted from branches dropping on wires and were repaired quickly, Wheeler said.
"It wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it could be," he said.
Temperatures dropped into the 20s, keeping the snow dry; and even east and south of Manchester, where forecasters warned conditions could be bad for power lines, the snow wasn't as wet and heavy as expected; and winds also didn't gust as high as predicted, Wheeler said.
Central Maine Power Company reported more than 100,000 Mainers without power after the nor'easter rolled through a southern swath of that state. By late Friday morning, an estimated 86,000 customers were without service as the last of the heavy snows moved out of central and northern Maine, the company reported.
The city of Laconia lifted a "snow emergency" parking ban at noon Friday. The ban originally was called to last through Friday.
The National Weather Service predicted a half inch or an inch of new snow from a weak storm system on New Year's Eve.