Powerful nor’easter brings snow, rain to New England

A powerful nor’easter rumbled across northern New England Thursday bringing a possible 20 inches of snow and all manner of nasty weather including heavy snow, sheets of rain, damaging winds and possibly thunderclaps.

The storm is projected to be the most powerful in the region in nearly two years. It’s slated to last through Friday, with much of the harshest weather coming in the evening and overnight. Officials in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont warned residents to stay off the roads in the evening and prepare for potential power outages. National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Pohl says accumulations of a foot or more are expected inland but that a changeover to rain will reduce snowfall totals near the coast.

“We’re Mainers and we should be used to it but it’s that first storm of the year. People should take their time, plan ahead and have an emergency kit. Just take it easy out there,” said Susan Faloon, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

Snow hampered commutes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well, though only a few inches were predicted to fall in each state.

As of mid-afternoon Thursday, snow in northern New England fell rapidly but things remained quiet in all three states, with few major accidents or mass power outages reported. The timing of the storm, during a holiday week in which schools are closed, is limiting some hazards and inconveniences typically caused by winter storms.

Still, the storm will be intense, and New Hampshire officials urged people not to drive after 6 p.m. The barometric pressure reading is projected to be close to that of a crippling storm on Valentine’s Day 2014 that canceled flights, knocked out power for thousands and claimed more than two dozen lives in the Northeast. The Vermont Health Department reminded people that overexertion shoveling snow can lead to heart attacks and to keep heat vents clear of ice and snow.

Ski areas, meanwhile, cheered the dump of snow. Mount Snow in New Hampshire said it has received more snow this season than in all of last year. Loon Mountain in New Hampshire has 51 trails open compared to just 18 at this time last winter.

On New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, officials say there is “considerable danger” of an avalanche due to the st

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