Lilliah Earle takes a wild ride on her flying saucer at the Laconia Parks and Recreation sledding hill on Wednesday afternoon. Sledding is likely to improve in the next two days. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Worst storm in two years expected to hit the region
By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A foot to a foot-and-a-half of snow will dump on the Lakes Region Thursday night into Friday morning, as the first major snowstorm in nearly two years will create headaches and traffic hazards.
Officials with the city of Laconia declared a "snow emergency" from Thursday at noon until Saturday at 9 a.m. This declaration requires motorists to clear the streets of vehicles during those times. The emergency declaration expands on existing rules that prohibit parking on city streets from midnight through 6:30 a.m. Nov. 1 through May 1. The storm, with winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour, brings winter back in a big way after a period of mostly tranquil weather.
"Last year didn't have much in the way of big storms, so we're probably looking at the biggest storm in the last couple of years," said Chris Legro, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.
"We're expecting snow to probably break out sometime in the early afternoon (Thursday) and that will continue through the evening overnight," Legro said.
The bulk of the storm will be in the evening and overnight hours, he said.
"Right now we're forecasting probably the 12- to 15-inch range across the Lakes Region," Legro said.
Expect wet snow in the southern part of the state and dry snow in the Laconia area.
Prior to this storm, through Dec. 28, the National Weather Service reported 6.7 inches of snowfall for the month and 24.8 inches of snow for the season in Meredith, closest monitoring center to Laconia.
Andrew Morse, department head at Belknap Landscape of Gilford, said by 10 a.m. Thursday, the company will set up shifts and prepare about 80 people to shovel and clear snow in Laconia, Gilford, Tilton and Belmont.
"We already have a game plan in place for all our shovelers and plow operators and heavy equipment operators," Morse said.
Legro said a storm of this magnitude has not been seen in close to two years. "Last winter was a pretty down winter as far as snowfall goes," he said. Morse agreed, noting a busy month for the landscape/snow-clearing company.
"We've done more this month of December than we did last year. This month has been pretty busy," he said.
Intense snowfall rates will create extremely low visibility for motorists Thursday night into Friday morning. The New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency urged residents to drive only if it is absolutely necessary. Anyone who must drive should avoid traveling alone and should inform others of a schedule and intended destination, agency officials noted in a press release. Other tips: Stay on main roads and avoid back-road shortcuts, and for anyone who becomes trapped in a car, pull off the highway, turn on hazard lights and remain with the vehicle. Only run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm, and when the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.
New Hampshire Electric Cooperative warned of possible power outages as a result of the winter storm. The member-owned cooperative, which serves 83,000 homes and businesses in 115 New Hampshire communities, has secured additional contract line crews to help with expected power outages, the cooperative reported in a press release. Real-time outage status will be posted on NHEC's website at www.nhec.com.
NHTI, Concord's Community College was among the venues where holiday basketball games will be postponed by the storm. The Concord Area Christmas Tournament, from Dec. 26-29, delayed its finals.
"With the storm approaching, we will move the two Concord Area Holiday tourney championship games scheduled for Thursday to Friday," announced Paul Hogan, professor of sports management, director of athletics, men's basketball coach, Concord. As rescheduled, game times on Friday include girls' championship: 5 p.m.; and boys' championship: 7 p.m., Hogan reported.
Joel Chagnon, organizer of the Mike Lee Holiday Basketball Bash in Farmington, expected to move game times from 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday to the same times on Friday. This tournament features Inter-Lakes and nine other schools. Chagnon urged fans to stay tuned for updates on the schedule.
Dan Sylvester, director of athletics for Franklin schools, said the only game on the slate for Thursday, a boys' basketball game at Hanover, was cancelled due to the impending snowstorm. The game may or may not be made up on Friday, he said.
At the 43rd annual Holiday Basketball Tournament in Gilford, officials confirmed Wednesday that both Thursday games, the girls' finals at 4:30 p.m. and the boys' finals at 6 p.m., will be played on Friday.
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