State Officials Urge Residents to Avoid Driving as Winter Storm Hits Northeast

By | February 15, 2017

Plow trucks and shovelers in the Northeast attacked the region’s newest winter storm as fresh powder piled on top of ever-growing piles and whiteout conditions made roads unsafe, immobilizing millions of residents.

Winter storm warnings were in effect from upstate New York to Maine, where blizzard conditions and up to 2 feet of snow were possible.

At least one death has been called weather-related. In Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a coroner said high winds took down a tree branch that crashed through a driver’s windshield and led to the man’s death.

Cumberland County Coroner Charley Hall said 22-year-old Shannon Lee Martin, of Loysville, died early Monday after going into cardiac arrest at a hospital outside Harrisburg. Authorities were also investigating whether injuries in Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island could be attributed to the weather.

State officials in New Hampshire and Maine urged people to stay off the roads to avoid whiteout conditions; a number of crashes were reported from Sunday through early Monday.

“We just want to remind people to be smart and be safe,” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said, warning residents to watch for children playing in snowbanks who might not be seen by plow truck drivers.

Schools around the region delayed or canceled classes Monday, including in Boston and in New York state, from Albany to areas outside New York City.

By early afternoon Monday, snow totals in Maine included 20 inches in Harpswell and 15 inches in Kennebunk. In New Hampshire, 14 inches had fallen in Ossipee and a foot covered Berlin. Scattered power outages were reported overnight, and the forecast of strong winds and coastal flooding was a concern Monday.

Nearly all flights in and out of the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, were canceled. In Maine, the Portland Jetport was closed.

Maine state offices were closed Monday, as everything from the state Legislature to a public hearing about eel fishing rules was shut down. The Statehouse and court system in New Hampshire were also closed.

The new snow comes on the heels of a series of other storms, including one last week that dumped 19 inches on parts of Maine.

One of the big questions for residents: Where is all the snow going to go?

Raychell Libby, from Portland, Maine, walked through a path that had been cut through the snow, piled hip-high.

“I really love the paths that are made afterward,” she said as she chugged along and walked Logan, her 7-year-old Catahoula mix. “It’s kind of like a winter wonderland.”

Boston was largely spared the large accumulations seen in New Hampshire and Maine, with the city getting about 4 inches. Still, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged residents to avoid driving and instead use public transportation.

In northern New England, the storm was welcome news at ski areas, which last year faced some of the lowest snowfall totals in years.

The ski area was forecast to get up to 26 inches of snow by the end of the day Monday.

And in Vermont, the governor declared Monday a “Powder Day,” urging winter weather enthusiasts to take advantage of all the snow. Republican Gov. Phil Scott encouraged out-of-state skiers and snowmobilers to stay an extra day or two in Vermont and take advantage of the conditions.

“And while I can’t grant official pardons out-of-state, I certainly hope all will be granted a `snow day’ pardon. Visitors can feel free to tell their boss Vermont’s governor asked them to stay,” Scott said.

Jonathan Braff, of Portland, said he planned to try skiing at Western Promenade later Monday, but was busy clearing his driveway.

But for now, his goal was to clear out the driveway. “I don’t think I’ll get the cars out until tonight,” he said, and added he had lost sight of one of his cars because of the snow.

Associated Press writers Marina Villeneuve in Portland, Maine, Holly Ramer in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, and Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.

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