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February 04. 2014 11:12PM

Yet another snowstorm disrupts schools, government


The ice on Meredith Bay is shown on Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday's predicted snowfall and this weekend's annual Fishing Derby. DAN SEUFERT 

Snow is expected to be falling heavily in the state today in what meteorologists are calling the month's first nor'easter. The forecast forced postponement of Gov. Maggie Hassan's "State of the State" address and prompted many schools, churches and other organizations to announce cancellations.

On the other hand, more winter weather is great news for ice fishing enthusiasts as the weekend's statewide fishing derby in Meredith approaches.

The Governor's annual speech had been scheduled to precede a full House of Representatives session today at 10 a.m. But the House announced Tuesday that the speech and the House session have been postponed until Thursday at 2 p.m.

House Speaker Terie Norelli's office cited "safety concerns resulting from the forecasted winter storm."

The House leadership said legislative business scheduled for Thursday morning will occur as published in the House calendar. House committee meetings scheduled for Thursday afternoon or later will be rescheduled to a later date. The state Senate, meanwhile, will proceed as scheduled with several committee meetings and hearings on Wednesday.

The Senate also announced that the full Senate session scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. will be conducted as scheduled prior to the "State of the State" address.

Gov. Hassan issued this warning on Tuesday: "With heavy snowfall of up to an inch of snow per hour expected during the height of (the) storm, I strongly encourage Granite Staters to take every precaution on the roads and follow all traffic and safety alerts, and to limit travel if at all possible. State agencies will liberally allow leave for state employees who determine that they cannot safely travel to work, and we will work throughout the storm with Department of Transportation and Homeland Security and Emergency Management officials to support local communities and provide updates as needed."

The snow was expected to start a few hours before Wednesday's sunrise and be through by the time it goes down, according to James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. The worst of the storm will hit just as it's getting started, just after sunrise, he said.

"For those who have to be driving, it won't be very pleasant," Brown said.

When the storm is through, it will have dropped a foot or more in much of the state, Brown said.

"Up near Coos County we're probably looking for 10 inches, and then it drops off as you get closer to the Canadian border; it's a coastal storm," he said.

On Meredith Bay Wednesday, bundled-up fishing enthusiasts were preparing for the white stuff. Many said the snow will be a big help for this weekend's Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby, as the Lake Winnipesaukee ice has been getting more and more slippery as more people move on to the ice.

Though there are pockets of snow around, most of the walkways between the bob houses and the paths and roads leading to the lake are glare ice.

Many experienced ice anglers have strap-on ice cleats, but thousands who will be pouring onto the ice this weekend around the lake will just be wearing boots.

"It's treacherous walking, it's been almost dangerous, particularly for little kids," said Brian Martin of Meredith, who has been fishing in the derby for most of his 38 years, he said.

"The snow will make me feel easier, I have two little ones coming this weekend," said Martin's girlfriend and bob house mate for the past 10 years, Heidi McCarter of Meredith.

Martin said in mid-winter, the heavy lake winds typically blow the snow off of the ice, and there have been numerous injuries in past years when the ice has been so bare.

But this storm will likely dump lots of snow on the ice, which, after it is packed down, will make walking much safer than it has been.

"The snow will make it much easier to travel on the lake, there's no doubt about it," said Dave Rossi of Londonderry, who has fashioned some cleats for his all-terrain vehicle for traveling on bare ice.

Rossi, who has been fishing at the derby for the past 20 years, is expecting a large family clan this weekend for the derby.

"The timing of the snow storm is perfect, just in time to give us some walking snow but not enough to bother people trying to get here Friday," he said. "The conditions will be perfect."

The derby is not just about fishing on Meredith Bay, of course. Any fish in the legally and freshly caught from any fresh New Hampshire public waters by a registered derby ticket holder will be accepted. Fish must be taken through the ice on Saturday or Sunday.

The state Department of Transportation is encouraging New Hampshire residents to take the following precautions:

* Leave extra time to get to destinations;

* Allow safe driving distances between vehicles;

* Anticipate reduced speeds;

* Keep vehicle fuel tanks at least half full;

* Limit road travel during the storm to allow public works crew to clear and treat the roads.

Additional information, including safety and preparedness tips, is available at nh.gov/readynh.


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