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Snow brings flurry of crashes

By SHAWNE K. WICKHAM
New Hampshire Sunday News

December 09. 2017 8:33PM
A traffic camera captured an image of a limousine off the side of the northbound lane of Interstate 93 in Windham during Saturday's snowstorm. (NH Department of Transportation)



Numerous crashes, including a fatal single-vehicle crash in Epping, were reported on the state's roadways as the first major snowfall of the season moved into New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon.

State police closed down one eastbound lane of Route 101 in Epping after a car crashed into a bridge abutment near Exit 7 shortly before 2 p.m.

First responders were on the scene of multiple-vehicle crashes in Nashua and Hudson, and crashes were also reported in Wilton, Mason, Sunapee and Newport.

Lt. Jeffrey Ladieu, public information officer for the New Hampshire State Police, said by early evening, there had been more than 80 reports of crashes and vehicles off the roadways after the snowfall began around noon in southern New Hampshire. Most were in southern and Seacoast areas, he said.

"It's very typical for a New England, especially a Granite State, snowfall," Ladieu said. "It's the first of the year."

"We just urge the public, if you don't have to leave home, don't leave home."

Ladieu also reminded drivers to obey the state's "move over" law and make way for plow trucks. "And simply slow down," he said.

Eric Sinsabaugh, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said the storm was "pretty much living up to what we advertised."

By 4 p.m. Saturday, between 2 and 3 inches of heavy, wet snow had fallen across southern New Hampshire, he said, "and we're still looking for 3 to 6 (inches) total by morning."

That kind of snow, he said, "is probably some of the worst for driving in."

"It's a lot slicker."

Speed limits on most major highways were reduced to 45 miles per hour, but that didn't stop drivers from exceeding that advisory, according to Bill Boynton, spokesman for the Department of Transportation.

"Unfortunately, despite numerous advanced notices and advisories, some drivers don't slow down for the first winter storm, and drive too fast for the conditions," he said.

Boynton said roads were snow-covered by late afternoon and DOT plowing crews were out statewide.

The storm led to some event cancellations. Stockbridge Theater at Pinkerton Academy in Derry canceled its Saturday evening performance of "Peter and the Starcatcher."

Sinsabaugh said the storm would move out of the area after midnight.

And while there's more snow predicted for Tuesday into Wednesday, he said, "Right now that's not looking like as big a deal."

But after that, look for a "major pattern change" in the jet stream, he warned. "We could be sub-zero by Thursday and Friday."

The good news? "That should keep the snow around for Christmas."

swickham@unionleader.com


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