By WILSON RING, Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — It’s April Fools’ Day but it’s no joke: People across northern New England woke up to a foot of heavy, wet snow on parts of the region Saturday and conducted weekend business as more fell throughout the day.
The storm caused power outages and numerous highway accidents. By mid-afternoon the number of electric customers without power across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine had dropped to about 2,200 from overnight totals that reached into the tens of thousands. The winter storm warning for Vermont and New Hampshire expired, but remained in place for parts of Maine until 8 p.m.
“This is Mother Nature’s idea of an April Fools’ joke,” said meteorologist Eric Schwibs of the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.
But he said that while it’s disheartening to see snow so late in the season, it’s not unusual. Winter had already brought more snow than normal to northern New England. Portland, Maine, recorded 84.4 inches of snow, 2 feet above normal for the city; Concord, New Hampshire, had 73.8 inches, about 15 inches above normal.
While the storm may have sent some people back to bed, friends from Massachusetts on a visit to Maine were reveling in the snow.
“If you live in New England, you have to expect Mother Nature to keep you on your toes,” said Erik Lustgarten, of Newburyport.
“It couldn’t be on a better day, April Fools,” said Tracy Neff. “I think it’s fabulous. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, everyone’s festive.”
Bradford, New Hampshire, about 20 miles west of the capital Concord reported 18 inches of snow while the nearby town of Washington reported 17 inches.
Snow-related crashes were reported on the Maine Turnpike and, in New Hampshire, a loaded tractor-trailer rolled over on Interstate 95 in Hampton, blocking three lanes. The 34-year-old driver, a resident of Chelsea, Massachusetts, was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
In Vermont, the state’s largest electric utility, Green Mountain Power, had more than 21,000 customers back on line after they had lost power overnight. About 1,700 remained without service.
Kristin Carlson, a vice president for the utility, urged caution.
“People should stay away from down lines, as they may be live and dangerous, and be aware that downed trees could have power lines tangled in them and may also be unsafe,” she said.
Just after noon New Hampshire’s Unitil utility reported a handful of its customers were without power, down from a peak of about 7,000 early Saturday.
Spokesman Alec O’Meara said customers still without power should call customer service.
“Never assume someone else has reported an outage impacting your home, especially if you see power restored to your neighbors,” O’Meara said.
“You may have an issue exclusive to your home so be sure to report it.”
In southern New England, the first day of April came in with a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain, but most accumulation was expected to fade away quickly as more spring-like temperatures were predicted to warm up the region.
A flood warning was issued for several Massachusetts counties after many areas received up to 2 inches of rain overnight. And police in Westport, Connecticut, warned of roads possibly flooding during high tide.
Associated Press writers David Sharp in Portland, Maine, and Denise Lavoie in Boston contributed to this story.