LACONIA — Half a foot of wet heavy snow made for slow going on roads and highways around the Lakes Region Wednesday morning, and also resulted in thousands of homes and businesses being without power.
Most area schools were closed for the day.
Meteorologist Russ Hobby put the snowfall in Laconia at 7 inches.
Meredith and Moultonborough were hardest hit by outages, according to Seth Wheeler, spokesman for the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative.
As of mid-afternoon one-third of Meredith remained without power, while a quarter of Moultonborough homes and businesses were in the dark. At one point late in the morning the Co-op said 20,000 of its customers statewide had lost their power. By 1:30 p.m. that number was down to 7,900, Wheeler said.
Most Co-op customers were expected to get their power back by Wednesday night.
“It’s not the extensive damage like we had with the storm last year. This time it was tree limbs loaded with just enough snow that they bent down and touched the wires, triggering outages,” Wheeler said. “The good news is that we didn’t have to put in new poles and string new lines. But the bad news is that our crews have to go from spot to spot to restore power and that takes time.”
Area customers of Eversource, the state’s largest utility, was were not as hard hit.
Company spokesman William Hinkle said up to 6,545 customers in the Lakes Region were out of power at one point, including in Laconia, Gilford and Belmont. By early afternoon line crews had restored power to almost two-thirds of those affected. Statewide just under 5,000 Eversource customers were without power at mid-afternoon.
Crews for both utilities were expected to work overnight if necessary to get everyone’s power restored. But Wheeler predicted that a large majority of Co-op customers without power would get their lights back no later than 10 p.m.
Laconia Public Works Director Wes Anderson said the timing of the storm’s arrival made travel on city streets especially difficult. “It didn’t start snowing until 5 a.m,” he explained.