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April 24. 2014 4:06PM

High winds cause power outages, fan fires across state

A taste of winter returned to New Hampshire Thursday, causing widespread power outages, dangerous brush fires, and dropping 5 inches of snow on Mount Washington.

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for parts of the state early Thursday morning, warning that an ocean low centered south of Nova Scotia would be producing strong northwest winds of 20 to 30 mph along with gusts up to 45 mph during the day.

The high winds caused problems throughout the state, especially with power lines.

"Our crews are very busy," said Public Service Company of New Hampshire's Martin Murray. "There are numerous scattered power outages throughout the state; we're experiencing fairly strong wind gusts."

PSNH had many many towns that had outages "in single and double figures" in terms of customers without power, he said. At 3 p.m., there were 2,123 customers without power in 32 New Hampshire towns.

The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative also had several customers without power Thursday afternoon, mostly in the Meredith area.

"The wind has been very strong, particularly in Meredith; it's coming in off the lake," said the co-op's Clint Hutchins.

Brush fires broke out in several parts of the state, including in Northfield and in Meredith. The Meredith fire on Swain Road brought four Lakes Region fire departments to the scene, and Meredith firefighters continued efforts to contain the fire late into the afternoon.

"It was difficult because the winds were blowing hard," said Laconia Fire Department Lt. Lisa Baldelli, who said crews helped to stop the brush fire from spreading. "Anytime you have winds like this it's going to cause problems fighting fires."

A tree reportedly fell on a home at 69 Dearborn St. in Belmont at about 4 p.m. A two-alarm brush fire at 158 Putney Road in Andover brought fire and forestry crews from several area towns at 4:28 p.m. The fire was under control shortly shortly after 5 p.m., fire officials said.

Granite Staters who are sick of the winter-like weather have good reason to grumble. According to the National Weather Service, March was the fourth-coldest month on record for the state. April has brought a mixture of warm and cold days, and so far, the month's temperatures are about average for the month, said the weather service's Chris Kimball.

Friday will bring warm temperatures, in the 60s.

"But it will be cold again on Saturday," Kimball said, adding that temperatures will likely barely rise above 50 degrees in the coming week.

"It's normal to have periods of cold weather this month, the warm air to the south and the colder air from the northwest are battling," Kimball said.

Murray said days like Thursday are to be expected. "I wouldn't call this an unusual spring, even though the temperatures were a little colder than many of us would like," he said.


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