Seacoast New Hampshire and coastal areas in southern Maine can expect a short window of heavy, wet snow beginning Wednesday while inland communities will receive higher snowfall amounts in the latest winter storm to hit the region.
After winter weather got off to mild start with a green Christmas across many communities, the region is now facing its third winter storm in less than one week.
Hunter Tubbs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said snow was expected to arrive in Strafford County and the Seacoast in New Hampshire and York County, Maine, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“It's a tough forecast. There’s going to be a very tight gradient likely, but we expect 2-3 inches directly along the beaches, and then 3-5 inches just a little further inland,” he said.
How much snow will the region get by time latest storm ends?
In Portsmouth, the National Weather Service is projecting the city could receive three additional inches of snow to add to its recent accumulation. Towns along the York County coastline could see three to five inches of snow in the next storm.
Moving inland, according to Tubbs, the storm system could leave southern Strafford County municipalities with upwards of five inches of snow, while northern Strafford County and inland York County communities, including Sanford, could get 4-8 inches of snow.
Interior Maine towns and cities are expected to be hit with even higher snowfall totals, with Tubbs noting the current forecast is 6-12 inches.
Snow will switch to rain, and high winds could bring more power outages
The coastline will be the first territory to see the snowfall turn to freezing rain Wednesday night before eventually becoming “plain rain” by Thursday morning, Tubbs said.
New Hampshire power outage map:Check for outages in your area
Maine power outage map:Check for outages in your area
Two pushes of high winds are expected by forecasters: one beginning late Wednesday and lasting until early Thursday morning, and a subsequent one Thursday afternoon into the evening. The first push could bring gusts of around 30-35 mph, while the second may result in gusts hitting 40 mph along the coastline of southern Maine and New Hampshire.
The National Weather Service is not anticipating coastal flooding to be a major issue in the approaching storm.
Will there be more power outages? Suppliers brace for impact
With tens of thousands of customers previously left without power and reeling in the aftermath of the two recent winter storms, electricity providers are cautioning the public about the potential effects of the latest storm.
As of early Wednesday, Unitil was reporting just 11 customers still had power outages in its New Hampshire area.
The company is prepared to tackle more outages that could be brought on by Wednesday’s storm, as Unitil acknowledged the possibility of more wet snow piling up on trees and power lines.
“Our crews have been working tirelessly to get the lights back on for all of our customers since Monday, but unfortunately we’ve got another storm on our doorstep,” Unitil spokesperson Alec O’Meara said. “While warmer temperatures and some sunshine yesterday helped melt some snow from trees in parts of the region, the combination of more heavy snow and gusty winds has the potential to damage trees and powerlines, which could result in additional outages.”
Central Maine Power, which was still working to restore power after thousands experienced outages in York County this week, noted the latest storm could bring more ice to the region than the previous two systems to pass through.
The company reminded customers who have lost power to be cautious, stay away from downed power lines, turn off and unplug major appliances and “sensitive” electronics, and to never use ranges or outdoor stoves to heat a residence.
“We urge all Mainers to exercise caution as trees and limbs are already bearing the weight of leftover snow and roads will be very slick,” said Central Maine Power spokesperson Jon Breed.
Eversource works on existing outages
Eversource reported that more than 1,000 line, tree and service crews, including some from nearby states and Canada, were working throughout New Hampshire to restore power and help clear recent storm damage as of Wednesday.
Eversource previously noted it also had close to 200 damage assessors and 100 wire guards monitoring its system after every region of New Hampshire was impacted by recent weather.
“As the next wave of winter weather approaches the region, we continue to focus on restoring all current outages while also closely monitoring the forecast to shift resources around the state as necessary," said Doug Foley, Eversource New Hampshire’s president of electric operations. "Trees across New Hampshire are already incredibly stressed from the battering that they’ve been taking from our recent winter weather, as well as long-term cumulative impacts from droughts and invasive insects. We know how frustrating it is for our customers to lose power at any time, and we will not stop working until all of the winter weather has cleared and all of our customers have power.”
Throughout the state as of 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, there were still more than 3,050 Eversource customers that were without power, less than 1% of its customers in the state, down from a high of nearly 50,000 earlier in the week.
Eversource spokesperson William Hinkle said the company expects to "substantially complete restoration" to those affected customers by Wednesday evening. The current Eversource power outages will be prioritized over more possible outages that could take place due to the next storm set to hit, he added.
Seacoast parking bans
Rochester was the first to announce a parking ban on all city street and lots from 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25 to 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 26. For information, call 603-332-4096 or visit rochesternh.gov.
High school sports games canceled
Some high school games across the Seacoast were canceled Wednesday ahead of the afternoon snowfall.
All games at Exeter, Spaulding, York, Portsmouth and Dover were postponed to a later date. At Marshwood, wrestling at Kennebunk (Maine) High School was still scheduled to be played, while everything with a start of time of 7:30 p.m. or later were postponed.
Portsmouth athletic director Tom Kozikowski said, "We were concerned with the weather forecast and driving conditions this evening, so many schools, including us, erred on the side of caution for our teams and their families going to watch the games. We were scheduled to travel to the Manchester-Concord area where most of the inclement weather is expected, so it made a lot of sense to postpone. All games already have reschedule dates, so that’s a good thing."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Seacoast NH, southern Maine face new winter storm, wind, power outages