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Martha Dagher, from Manchester, waits for AAA, as she cannot make it up Hanover Street by Hall Street during the snowstorm in Manchester on Tuesday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

Storm's timing made afternoon, evening commute treacherous

A quick-hitting storm packed quite a punch Tuesday, dumping nearly a foot of snow in some spots in a matter of hours and making for a treacherous evening commute.

"It came at just the right or the wrong time, depending on your perspective," said James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

The snow that began falling in southern areas by late morning turned heavy by afternoon, with snow falling at rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour at times.

While the snow blitz was brief — lasting only about six hours — the storm left a swath of 6 to 8 inches across most of southern New Hampshire, with some places receiving even more.

The weather service reported 12.5 inches near Londonderry, 10 in Bow, 9 in Gilford, 7.5 in Strafford, 7 in Deerfield, 10 in Nashua, and about 6 in Epping by late afternoon.

Many schools dismissed students early to get them home safely before the heaviest snow arrived, but some buses still had to navigate the snow-covered roads as the snow picked up around the time that schools closed.

New Hampshire State Police lowered the speed limit to 45 mph on all state highways during the storm, but the heavy snow led to numerous accident and spinouts. Some vehicles became stuck in the roads because plows were unable to keep up with the snow while others ended up in snow banks.

At one point, rush-hour traffic came to a standstill on Interstate 93 between Concord and the Hooksett tolls.

"There's no crashes, it's just slow going," said state police spokesman Lt. Nicole Armeganian. She said the southbound side seemed to be more gridlocked than northbound.

While there were a few crashes on the highway, she said most incidents involved vehicles off the road.

In Londonderry, a U.S. Postal Service vehicle slid off of Mammoth Road and a train reportedly became stuck in snow on Main Street in Nashua.

The snow moved out by early evening, but forecasters said more snow is expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon. Another 1 to 3 inches of snow is likely with that system, followed by a brief warm up and some rain late Thursday into Friday. Most of the state should see temperatures in the mid to upper 40s Friday and Saturday before colder air moves back in for next week.

As for total snowfall so far this season, Concord measured 54.8 inches before Tuesday's storm; normal snowfall at this point in the season is 43 inches, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Kistner.

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