Mid-April freezing and flooding give Granite Staters a rude awakening
Much of southern New Hampshire woke to an ice-snow mix Wednesday, while flooding closed roads in the state’s northern half.
In Manchester, the Public Works Department sent out four salt trucks at 3:30 a.m., said Jay Davini, chief of street operations. The trucks hit areas that freeze quickly — bridges, hills and areas in the North End.
He said 12 Highway Department trucks are still equipped with plows and salters; they won’t be stripped until May. “We don’t want to be caught by surprise,” Davini said.
In Concord, the temperature dropped to 25 degrees at 6:30 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats delayed a game scheduled for 10:35 a.m. and postponed Manchester Schools Day, which would have brought thousands of students to the park for a game.
“Everything just froze overnight,” said Fisher Cats spokesman Tom Gauthier. Ice was on the concourse, the seats and the field, he said.
“Winter should be over,” Gauthier said. “Let’s be honest, it’s April.” In Holderness, rising Pemigewasset River waters flooded gas stations and Plymouth State University properties along Route 175-A.
According to the National Weather Service, the river rose from its normal winter level of 3 to 6 feet to a peak of nearly 17 feet at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday. It had dropped back to about 15 feet two hours later. Flood stage for the river is 13 feet.
Residents and business owners found the area covered with 5 to 6 feet of water. Water had reached the doors of the PSU Physical Education Center and the university’s Hanaway Ice Arena.
“The parking lots close to Route 175 and some of the athletic fields were covered with water,” said PSU’s Bruce Lyndes. “The physical education center and the ice arena were closed as a precaution and not affected.”
Two convenience stores with gas pumps also were covered with water and closed Wednesday morning. A stretch of Route 175-A and nearby exit 24 of Interstate 93 were closed.
During Tropical Storm Irene flooding in 2011, the river peaked at more than 21 feet.
“It’s nowhere near as bad as when Irene hit,” arena manager Dave Gyger said.
Colebrook nearly looked like an island, with floodwaters making three of the four highways in and out of the community impassable.
As of Wednesday morning, “everything is open except Roaring Brook Road,” Town Manager Becky Merrow said. “But for a while last night, Colebrook was a bit of an island with routes 3, 145 and 26 all closed and 102 at the Columbia Bridge was also closed.”
Three motorists were stranded and had to be assisted by tow trucks, she said.
Brian Schutt, the engineer for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s District 1 office in Lancaster, said the agency had 11 of its 17 crews working at the height of flooding.