Wet, heavy snow slams Northeast

Associated Press • Apr 5, 2007 at 11:15 AM

CONCORD, N.H. - A spring storm brought more than a foot of snow to parts of the upper Northeast, closing schools, tangling traffic and knocking out power to more than 180,000 homes and businesses on Thursday.

At least one death was blamed on the wintry weather, which began late Wednesday and was expected to continue through the weekend.

The flakes fell at a rate of up to 2 inches per hour, and by early Thursday, areas of Maine already had nearly a foot and a half of wet, heavy snow, and central New Hampshire saw 16 inches in spots. Up to 24 inches fell in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, as many as 13 inches in Vermont, and upstate New York had several inches as well.

The spring snow followed a winter that was unusually warm.

"We had Easter on December 25th. People had crocuses coming out and blooms on bushes. And now we have Christmas, with all this snow," said meteorologist Butch Roberts of the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. "It's a little topsy-turvy sometimes."

Maine baseball fans shared in the misery as the Portland Sea Dogs season opener was postponed for at least a day, but the team made the best of it, dotting the field with 11 snowmen in jerseys and caps - nine players, a batter and an ump. It was the second time since 1994 that opening day was delayed by late snow. In Manchester, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats canceled Thursday night's home opener but put out the call for fans to help clear the turf for a Friday game. Volunteers who show up with shovels get free tickets. The 24 inches that fell in Negaunee Township, Mich. broke a 1974 record of 12 inches, said meteorologist Jason Alumbaugh.The cold weather forced postponement of Thursday's baseball game at Comerica Park between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Detroit Tigers. Snowfall in April is not unusual, but the volume of snow in this storm was relatively rare. Portland's 11.6 inches tied a record for its fifth-biggest April snowfall.

Jon Blanchard, spending his first night back in Portland after a winter in Florida, was awakened Thursday by the sound of tree limbs snapping under the weight of the heavy snow. He put aside plans of unloading his camper and fired up his snow blower instead. "I hate it," Blanchard said. "That's why I spent the whole winter in Florida." The weighed-down trees and limbs also felled power lines. About 100,000 homes and businesses lost power in Maine, in and around Alfred, Brunswick and Portland; another 81,000 customers were in the dark in New Hampshire, and Vermont had about 1,300 outages. Outages could continue as snow melts and more trees fall, utilities said, and a spokesman in Maine said many customers there would be in the dark into Friday. The heavy, wet snow clogged roads early Thursday, prompting school officials to cancel or delay classes around the region. The Red Cross had to cancel several blood drives in northern New England, and issued a plea for donations. A man was killed in New Hampshire when his car ran off Interstate 93 and hit a tree during the storm Wednesday night on the Canterbury-Concord line, state police said. A tractor-trailer carrying oxygen bottles skidded and rolled over Wednesday night on the Everett Turnpike in Merrimack. Bottles rolled out, and it took crews all night to clear the road, though none of the bottles broke. The driver was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Cars were also reported off the road in Maine, and police said a 17-year-old girl's death Wednesday on a slippery road in Topsham may have been weather-related. At ski areas, the snow was a welcome lift. "It's going to help us close the season strong," said Chris Lenois, a spokesman for Vermont's Mount Snow, which ends its season on Sunday. About 6 inches fell in West Dover.

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